2019 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER

November 2019 began with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield get a win over Carrick Rangers.

A few days later, I made my first trip of the season to Old Trafford, to see United beat Partizan Belgrade in the UEFA Cup.

While I was there, I got photos of Street Art in Manchester, and then visit to Rochdale in search of Street Art, after there was a festival held there in August.

The following weekend, I headed to The Brandywell to see Linfield take on Institute. While I was there, I was able to get some photos (from a fence outside) of Institute’s abandoned former stadium, Drumahoe.

Later that day, on my return from the North-West, I took in a second football match, Northern Ireland’s European Championship Qualifier against Holland.

Six days later, I was on the road again, to see Linfield lose 1-0 to Glenavon.

A few days later, I headed to Vilnius in Lithuania for a very short, very cheap and very cold break. Unsurprisingly, I was out snapping with my camera.

On the last day of the month, I got up early and walked up Cavehill, my first time doing so. Later that day, I headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield face Larne.

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v Partizan Belgrade

Manchester United v Partizan Belgrade Photo Album

Rochdale Uprising

Rochdale Uprising Photo Album

Drumahoe

Drumahoe Photo Album

Institute v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Holland

Northern Ireland v Holland Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Vilnius

Vilnius Photo Album

Vilnius Street Art

Vilnius Street Art Photo Album

Cavehill

Cavehill Photo Album

Linfield v Larne

2019 IN PICTURES – MARCH

March began with a first concert at Elmwood Hall for me, to see KT Tunstall.

A few days later was my first football match of the month, as I travelled to Mourneview Park to see Linfield lose to Glenavon.

The football didn’t get much better, as I headed to Seaview to see Linfield lose the County Antrim Shield Final to Crusaders.

Thankfully, things got a bit better as Linfield beat Institute 2-0.

There was a flurry of football as the month ended, with three games in four days, with Linfield’s trip to Dungannon Swifts being sandwiched inbetween Northern Ireland’s opening Euro 2020 Qualifiers, at home to Estonia and Belarus.

KT Tunstall live at Elmwood Hall

KT Tunstall live at Elmwood Hall Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Institute

Northern Ireland v Estonia

Northern Ireland v Estonia Photo Album

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Belarus

Northern Ireland v Belarus Photo Album

GLENAVON 1-0 LINFIELD 22.11.2019

After a poor start to the season and a difficult run of games against Top 6 opposition, you did have a fear that Glenavon were going to get it right eventually, and it would come against Linfield. Those fears came true, as Linfield dropped three vital points in the race for the title.

The opening minutes saw Shayne Lavery get in behind Glenavon’s defence and win a ball he shouldn’t have won, but the ball went just wide.

Glenavon were fearful everytime the ball went to or near Lavery, with some justification after he scored a 14 minute hat-trick when the sides met in September.

Lavery wasn’t the only player to go close, as Mark Stafford had a header block before Joel Cooper’s effort went wide.

Cooper was getting a lot of joy in the opening minutes, and Linfield were trying to get him on the ball as much as possible.

Inbetween that, Josh Daniels had an effort tipped around for a corner, a reminder to Linfield that they needed to make the most of the early chances they were creating.

Some neat build-up play saw Shayne Lavery curl a shot just wide. It seemed like a matter of time before Linfield scored.

Of course, we all know what happened next, as a speculative effort from Robert Garrett deflected in to put Glenavon 1-0 up. Garrett was credited with the goal, but the deflection made it an own goal for me.

Garrett had given Linfield a warning a few minutes earlier when his shot from the edge of the box was saved by Rohan Ferguson, who saved the rebound from Gary Hamilton.

The make things worse, the move for Glenavon’s goal began with some possession cheaply lost by Linfield.

Linfield responded quickly, with a Bastien Hary header being flicked over by Shayne Lavery.

Having already created opportunities at 0-0, and going immediately close at 0-1, you felt that there was no way that Linfield weren’t going to score.

However, that was as good as it got in the first-half for Linfield, as Glenavon were able to go in at the break comfortably 1-0 up.

There was no need for Linfield to panic, but they really needed to step it up, and not give Glenavon any opportunity to get comfortable.

Linfield knew that if they got an early goal, they could build on it and go on to win the game. However, just getting that goal was the issue.

There was a half-time substitution for Linfield, with Andrew Waterworth coming on for Mark Stafford. It was clearly a tactical change, as if it was injury, Josh Robinson or Ryan McGivern would have come on.

Switching to 3-5-2 did mean an extra man up front, but it cam at the cost of not having a full-back to support Millar or Cooper out wide.

The early minutes of the second-half saw a lot of Linfield pressure. Kirk Millar being frustrating by firing over from a shooting position when he needed to hit the ball low.

Jimmy Callacher then had a header well saved by Jonathan Tuffey as Glenavon managed to frustrate Linfield.

Glenavon almost got one at the other end when Rohan Ferguson was forced into saves from Josh Daniels

After an early flurry, Linfield never regained that momentum as Glenavon were comfortably holding onto their lead.

Even Joel Cooper was struggling to get past his man in the second-half.

Set pieces were shocking all night, being easily cleared and never really look like they were going to do anything with the second ball, if they won it.

On a night when nothing was happening for Linfield in open play, they needed to make the most of any set piece opportunities that came their way. And a lot of them came their way, which was the most frustrating thing.

They didn’t need to get half of them right, they just needed to get one right. If they could pull it back to 1-1, if there was enough time on the clock, they could charge on to win the game in the final minutes.

3-5-2 then became 3-4-3 as Daniel Reynolds came on for Bastien Hery. If you were to take off a midfielder, it would have had to be Stephen Fallon or Jamie Mulgrew. Even though he wasn’t having the best of games, Hery was still capable of unlocking Glenavon’s defence.

He proved that by running from midfield, only to see his low shot turned around by Jonathan Tuffey.

Linfield’s bench looked bare without Jordan Stewart and Daniel Kearns. If one or both of them were available, they would have been introduced in search of an equaliser.

And so it proved, as Glenavon held out for a 1-0 win.

The closest Linfield came to scoring after their initial flurry was when a goalbound header from a Glenavon defender into his own goal hit a defender on the line.

If ever you knew that it was their night.

Even though Glenavon are better than their League position suggested, this was three points thrown away against a team who were there for the taking. An opportunity to put pressure on Cliftonville, Coleraine and Crusaders thrown away. They’ll be arriving for their games with a spring in their step.

There’s no need to panic, Linfield will only be a point off the top if they win their games in hand, but you’d rather have the points in the bag.

With three games postponed, the road to the top of the table was going to be long and difficult, but we can’t afford to keep stumbling when the summit is in sight.

The last three games have all had a similar theme, a lack of creativity and urgency. The difference in this game is that Linfield didn’t get a goal at a key time, and they gave the opposition a lead to defend.

There’s an immediate opportunity for Linfield to put it right, with a trip to Ballymena on Tuesday night, in what becomes a must win game. Well they all are, but they are especially so now.

I’ll miss that game as i’ll be on a short break in Lithuania. I’ve an early morning flight on the Wednesday and kick-off is 9.45pm local time, so I might be sleeping through it.

That might be the first Linfield match I’ve slept through, which will be impressive considering I’ve witnessed a 0-0 draw against Dungannon.

Charlie Allen wasn’t involved in this game as he was playing for the Swifts in a Steel and Sons Cup Semi-Final, which he scored in a 4-0 win.

That is the third final in four years for them, which is impressive, especially when they only play young players in the competition due to senior players being ineligible.

That means i’ll spend a month trying to decide if I want to get up early on Christmas Day to go to it.

That was Allen’s 16th birthday as well. To make you feel old, he was born on the day of the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final. Linfield scraped a 3-2 win at home to Limavady United that day. If you can remember either of those, you must be feeling really old.

I’m at the age now where I can remember the closest game to a Linfield player being born.

The newest Linfield player, Ethan Boyle, was born on the day that David Jeffrey became Manager.

Boyle will join in January alongside Kyle McClean. The signing of Boyle, a right sided defender, suggests that Mark Haughey’s return from injury isn’t going as well as planned, or that he may be loaned out in January in order to regain match fitness.

This game being moved to a Friday night meant that I wasn’t able to go to Ulster v Clermont as my one match a season.

Frustratingly, all of Ulster’s home European matches are at the same time as a Linfield match.

Sorry Egg Boys, but you’ll always lose out to Linfield.

As a result, my one Ulster match a season will be at home to Connacht on December 27th, sandwiched inbetween Linfield’s trips to Glentoran and Coleraine on the 26th and 28th.

And they say that Christmas is a time for taking it easy.

One football trip i’m not making, unless something dramatic happens is the trip to Bosnia for the Euro 2020 Play-Off Semi-Final.

The winner of that match will be at home in the Final. Already people are excited about Northern Ireland v Republic of Ireland. If that is a game, I think it would be more advantageous for it to be at Lansdowne Road as playing away from home seems to suit them more.

If I was Manager of Slovakia or Bosnia, i’d be typing “Northern Ireland v Republic of Ireland” into Twitter, screenshot everything, and pin it on the Dressing Room wall.

The draw for the Finals will be next Saturday, meaning that if Northern Ireland qualify, their opponents fans will have a four month head start on hotel rooms in that city.

It also means that any team qualifying from the Play-Off will only have two games maximum, unless they can squeeze a third game into the May/June friendly period to prepare, as well as two months to arrange those games. What a farce.

Thankfully, Northern Ireland weren’t screwed over by the UEFA Nations League. I feel for Slovenia who finished 4th in their group, and will sit and watch a team who finished 5th in their group play in the Play-Offs.

If Bulgaria win their Semi-Final and Final on penalties, they will qualify with only one win in ten games, and that came against a Czech Republic side who had already qualified.

International Football can take a back seat until March.

Let’s hope Linfield are in a much stronger League position by then.

Photo Album

PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2018-2019

2018-2019 is now over and consigned to history. I hope you’ve enjoyed my month by month look back. I thought i’ll end with a look through some of my favourites. Feel free to vote for yours.

NEWFORGE

Taken during a Pre-Season Friendly, I like arty farty shots in the style of Stuart Roy Clarke, so I unashamedly try to copy him.

MOURNEVIEW

I like this shot because of the way everybody is lined up, and how everybody has their eyes fixed on Kirk Millar, being the man in possession

COLERAINE

This shot came about by fluke, I was hoping to capture a Linfield goal, but again, it’s the fans who make the picture for me, all heads in the one direction.

DUNGANNON

Got some good photos this day due to generous Winter Sun. Dungannon is always good for photos. I like the framing, getting the terraces in alongside the pitch.

JORDAN

Jordan Stewart makes it 4-0 against Crusaders in December. I like being able to capture the celebrations on the pitch and in the stand. Even a Steward joined in.

CLANDEBOYE

That spot at Clandeboye Park is handy for getting photos, as long as something interesting happens at that end during the game. Thankfully, Linfield scored while I was at this end. Not just in terms of phototaking, but the match, as it was looking like a frustrating afternoon against opponents who had already proved tricky earlier in the season.

SNOW TRAFFORD

Having got snow photos of Windsor Park in 2010, I couldn’t believe my luck when Manchester was hit with snow the day after United’s match against Burnley. Staying close to the ground, I was straight out with my camera to get photos.

McCLEAN

An explosion of emotion. 2-0 down and looking to be pegged back in the title race, to 2-2 and being frustrated, then a last minute winner, I managed to capture the reactions, of fans and players both going wild in unison.

RAIN

A weather based photo that just works. Bleurgh, an awful night for weather and football.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : MARCH

I had to wait a while for March’s football watching, but it wasn’t really worth the wait as Linfield slumped to a League defeat at Glenavon then lost the County Antrim Shield Final to Crusaders.

Thankfully, the month got a bit better when Linfield defeated Institute 2-0 at Windsor Park.

The month ended with a flurry of games, three in four days, with Linfield’s trip to Dungannon Swifts being sandwiched inbetween Northern Ireland’s opening two Euro 2020 Qualifiers, both at home, against Estonia and Belarus.

Glenavon v Linfield

County Antrim Shield Final

County Antrim Shield Final Photo Album

Linfield v Institute

Northern Ireland v Estonia

Northern Ireland v Estonia Photo Album

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Belarus

Northern Ireland v Belarus Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : AUGUST

August began for me with the opening game of the 2018-2019 season, as Linfield travelled to Mourneview Park to take on Glenavon.

My next match was in the Scottish Challenge Cup, taking in Edinburgh City v Albion Rovers during a short break to Edinburgh.

Upon my return, it was back to Irish League football for me, with successive trips to North Belfast for Linfield, against Crusaders and Cliftonville.

Glenavon v Linfield

Edinburgh City v Albion Rovers

Edinburgh City v Albion Rovers Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Cliftonville v Linfield

GLENAVON 2-0 LINFIELD 8.3.2019

As Linfield fans entered Mourneview Park on the opening day of the season, if you said to them that when they returned in March, a win would put them 12 points clear, they’d probably be a bit disappointed because they believe we should be 20 points clear. We’re a demanding bunch.

Exiting the Irish Cup allowed Linfield to have an unofficial mid season break, with a gap of ten days between this and their last match.

Last time out, they left it late to secure all three points at Newry, to give themselves a nine point lead at the top of the table. With Ballymena having a game in hand, it was always deceptive, you have to always assume that games in hand will be won, meaning it would always be viewed as a six point lead.

Good to have, but not enough to be comfortable, a lot of work still needed to be done to secure the title.

That work for the final run-in began at Mourneview Park on Friday night, for an away match against Glenavon which was selected for live TV coverage. This gave Linfield the opportunity the open up a twelve point lead, and really put the pressure on Ballymena United ahead of their trip to Coleraine.

Glenavon had most of the attacking play in the opening minutes, but the best they could offer was speculative shots on goal, on the stretch.

Linfield’s first attacking moment of note came when Andrew Waterworth dispossessed Caolan Marron, with the Glenavon defender being booked for a foul in the full back position.

The resulting free-kick was cleared. On a night when clear chances were rare, Linfield had to make the most of their set piece opportunities, especially as Jonathan Tuffey was struggling with the wind at times, nobody was really getting in front of him or near him to cause problems.

Linfield were now having pressure on Glenavon’s goal, but they needed to make it count. If they got the first goal, they could really push forward against a team that was there for the taking.

Their first real strike at goal came from a Jordan Stewart shot from a wide angle, which Tuffey turned around for a corner. Andrew Waterworth had Linfield’s next attempt on goal, flicking on a header from a corner.

Daniel Kearns frustrated when he got the ball in an attacking position, usually taking too many touches meaning the opportunity was missed to take advantage of the possession.

Just before half-time, a neat passing move created Linfield’s first clear chance of the half, but Kyle McClean saw his low shot excellently turned around by Tuffey.

0-0 at half-time, and Linfield were frustrated by not making the most of their set pieces, and having the weather in their favour. However, there was nothing to suggest that Linfield couldn’t go on and win the game in the second-half.

A minute into the second-half, things changed when Glenavon took the lead after a long range shot from Aaron Harmon. The goal came out of nowhere. Suddenly, from trying to win the game, Linfield were now having to turn around a deficit.

Linfield responded immediately, with Jordan Stewart being denied again by Tuffey from a wide angle when a cross to players running into the penalty area.

Jimmy Callacher later headed over from a corner as Linfield searched for an equaliser.

David Healy then turned to his bench, bringing on Marek Cervenka and Kirk Millar for Jordan Stewart and Daniel Kearns. The removal of Stewart didn’t go down too well with some supporters.

Cervenka’s main contribution was to gift Glenavon soft free-kicks in their defensive thirs with stupid fouls, stopping the game when Linfield needed the game to be alive.

Millar endured a frustrating evening, never really getting a clear opportunity to get a cross in.

It looked like Linfield were going to get that elusive equaliser when Andrew Waterworth lined up a shot in the penalty area, only to hit the post.

Marek Cervenka then had a half chance on the edge of the penalty area but he blasted over.

Lorcan Forde was then brought on for Kyle McClean as Linfield chased an equaliser.

It was Marek Cervenka who had Linfield’s next best opportunity, when he was played through on goal but his shot was saved by Tuffey. He really should have scored. On a night of few clear goalscoring opportunities, Linfield had to make the most of the ones that came their way.

You had the feeling if Linfield got an equaliser, they could push on and win it 2-1. With 81 minutes on the clock at that stage, there would have been plenty of time to make it happen.

Jimmy Callacher was next to be frustrated when he headed over from a corner. With 85 minutes on the clock, there would still have been time for Linfield to push on and win it.

Within a minute, Linfield’s task got a lot harder when Josh Robinson misjudged a header, allowing Josh Daniels to sneak in and finish low to make it 2-0.

You shouldn’t allow yourself to think it, but that was it, it was not going to be Linfield’s night.

A frustrating night against a team that were there for the taking. Despite the chances created, Glenavon’s goal was never under siege, which was the most frustrating thing.

With both Linfield and Ballymena United having tricky away games this weekend, you had the feeling there was going to be a plot twist in the title race. It would be Linfield getting pulled back rather than pulling away.

There’s no doubt that this result gave Ballymena a boost before their game at Coleraine, which they won 4-0.

Coleraine will use the red card at 0-0 as an excuse, but in truth, the defending for three of the goals was awful. Ballymena were more alert and eager on every occasion.

Ballymena’s second goal was given despite not crossing the line, much the Coleraine’s anger. Oh the irony of Coleraine complaining about a goal being given despite not crossing the line.

Coleraine fans found out the hard way that bad refereeing decisions aren’t so funny when it affects you’re own team.

It was a game that Linfield were hoping for a favour, but we should know by now that you don’t get any favours in a title race, you have to help yourself. Linfield didn’t do that at Mourneview.

A sense of perspective is needed. It brought to an end a run of 10 League wins in a row. Linfield’s record since losing at Ballymena in December is 16 wins from 19 games in all competitions.

The next eight games will determine if this is just a blip or the start of a slump. It is up to the players to make sure it is just a blip.

However, in recent weeks, Linfield have been getting away with it an scraping by.

The fixture list gives Linfield two games against Bottom Six teams, who must be beaten before the split if Linfield are to have realistic title ambitions.

Even though they have a goal difference in their favour, they don’t want to have to use it.

Crusaders let Coleraine back into it from a similar position this time last year though, but just about managed to get over the line.

Over the next few weeks, our attacking players need to step up. The stats are damming.

Michael O’Connor hasn’t scored since January 28th. Neither has Jordan Stewart. Andrew Waterworth hasn’t scored a League goal since January 12th. Marek Cervenka has only got one goal. Even Jimmy Callacher is experiencing a goal drought.

We just need to get back to basics. Joel Cooper’s absence is a loss but that can be overcome, we have the personnel to deal with it.

We might have versatile players, but we don’t need to constantly change formation and personnel. Our success this season has been based on having a settled line up. Let’s go back to 4231, and if we keep winning, keep the starting eleven.

The squad has served us well this season, but now is the time for minimal disruption.

Elsewhere, in unsurprising news, Larne confirmed their promotion to the top flight. I haven’t been to Inver Park since 2005, so it’ll be good to visit there again. Hopefully, Linfield will be visiting there next season as League champions.

With a County Antrim Shield Final in midweek, hopefully, Linfield will be entering the pitch ahead of their next League game, against Institute at Windsor Park next Saturday with another trophy in the bag.

Photo Album

2018 IN PICTURES – AUGUST

August 2018 was a busy month, and it began at Mourneview Park for the start of the 2018-2019 season as Linfield beat Glenavon 1-0.

The following weekend, I headed to Custom House Square to see George Ezra in concert. That was followed by a day trip to Bangor where I squeezed in some Street Art photos, including a mural of John Lydon.

It was then back to the football as I went to see Edinburgh City take on Albion Rovers in the Scottish Challenge Cup while on a short break in Edinburgh. I also managed to get some Street Art photos while in Edinburgh.

Upon my return to Belfast, was a trip to Seaview to see Linfield take on Crusaders.

The next few days were spent at Custom House Square, seeing Kasabian, Turin Brakes and Travis in concert.

The following Saturday was a trip to Solitude to see Linfield take on Cliftonville.

Glenavon v Linfield

George Ezra live at Custom House Square

George Ezra live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Bangor Street Art

Bangor Street Art Photo Album

Edinburgh City v Albion Rovers

Edinburgh City v Albion Rovers Photo Album

Edinburgh Street Art

Edinburgh Street Art Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Kasabian live at Custom House Square

Kasabian live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Turin Brakes live at Custom House Square

Turin Brakes live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Travis live at Custom House Square

Travis live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Cliftonville v Linfield

2018 IN PICTURES – APRIL

April 2018 began for me with a trip to Smithfield, to snap a new mural commemorating Smithfield Market.

Two days later, on Easter Tuesday, it was a trip to Lurgan for me to see Linfield take on Glenavon.

It was a month dominated by football, as I went to Linfield’s matches against Ballymena, Crusaders, Coleraine and Cliftonville.

The month ended as it started, with me checking out some Street Art, well, mostly the now finished garden at CS Lewis Square which featured a tribute to famous East Belfast people and landmarks.

Smithfield

Smithfield Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Coleraine

Linfield v Cliftonville

East Belfast Wall Of Fame

East Belfast Wall Of Fame Photo Album

GLENAVON 0-1 LINFIELD 4.8.2018

It had been a long three months since Linfield ended 2017-2018 in embarrassment and failure. A glorious World Cup might have distracted us but that is now a distant memory, not even Glenavon having the same kit as France can keep the memory of events in Russia alive.

If Linfield wanted an easy start to ease them into the season, the Fixture Computer didn’t deliver. You have to face your rivals at some point, might as well issue a statement of intent in the opening month of the season.

What will have given Linfield fans cause for optimism was their side’s recent record at Mourneview Park. They won twice there last season (Glenavon responded with two wins at Windsor Park, a draw in one of those games would have secured European football for Linfield), which made it three successive League wins there, with an Irish Cup Semi-Final win against Dungannon Swifts sandwiched in that run.

The last time they failed to win at Mourneview Park was the 2-2 draw in November 2016, coming from 2-0 down after playing with nine men for 80 minutes with an outfield player in nets. It felt like, and was celebrated like a win. There would be no Mark Haughey heroics in nets today though. More of that later.

Before that game, was a dead rubber last game of the season win in April 2016. Overall, it’s a run of five wins and one draw in the last six visits to Mourneview Park.

The last time Linfield lost in Lurgan was a 3-2 defeat in November 2015. The two goalscorers for Glenavon that day, Joel Cooper and Daniel Kearns were lining up for Linfield this afternoon.

One of the problems Linfield had last season was the unavailability of key players through injury and suspension. 2018-2019 didn’t get off to a much better start, with Jamie Mulgrew, Mark Stafford, Ryan McGivern, Mark Haughey, and Robert Garrett all unavailable for selection. The team picked itself, because there was nobody else available in defence or midfield.

That was further evident in those taking their place on the bench, a bench which will now include seven players, with only one of the six outfield players, Benny Moller Nielsen, not being an attacking player.

Seven players on the bench now means there is no excuse for not having a goalkeeper amongst the subs, with Gareth Deane taking his place on the bench today, meaning it is unlikely that Mark Haughey will be repeating his goalkeeping heroics any time soon. Unless a goalkeeper gets injured or sent-off and all three subs have been used. Haughey’s own injury means it could be a while before he is on the pitch himself, in whatever position.

It was a surprise to see Benny Moller Nielsen on the bench, even though he signed in the week leading up to the match, as he had been with the club in pre-season and was already part of the squad. That meant that it was Niall Quinn and Andrew Mitchell lining up in centre midfield in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

In the run-in last season, Linfield were decimated with suspensions. It’s easy to say the players need to watch themselves, but Linfield had six yellow cards today in a game where there was barely a bad tackle, as the referee seemed to be booking Linfield players for the first foul.

I was held up getting into the ground and missed the first minute. As I arrived, there was a corner kick being prepared for with Linfield’s attackers in the box and a flamboyantly dressed goalkeeper on the line.

Linfield on the attack, good to see, I thought to myself.

It turned out that Jonathan Tuffey was at the other end of the pitch dressed relatively coservatively in a colour best described as orange highlighter, while it was Roy Carroll who was dressed head to to in what can be best described as yellow highlighter.

As is unwritten tradition at Mourneview Park, Glenavon attack the end where Linfield fans are situated. It was a sizeable away crowd of Linfield fans. To give you an idea of how much, all the seats that could be filled (The end of the stand has no access in order to create a buffer zone between opposing fans) in the stand were filled, while the overspill covered the whole way across, and was a couple of rows deep.

Those that were stood behind the goal were watching Glenavon on the attack, with a penalty being awarded for a handball by Chris Casement. Not for me.

Last season, Linfield’s Andrew Mitchell was prolific from the penalty spot. Thankfully, Glenavon’s one was not, blasting his shot over the bar, meaning any debate as to wether it was a penalty didn’t matter.

On Friday, NIFL posted an article on their website advising clubs how to minimise the risk of spectators being hit by footballs. Mitchell’s penalty was so high, no Linfield supporters were in danger of being hit by the ball. Shoppers in Lurgan Town Centre may have had to duck for cover when the ball eventually landed.

If the award of the penalty felt like a return to the bad vibes of 2017-2018 for Linfield, the miss and the manner of it might have felt like luck was returning in their favour.

It certainly felt that way a few minutes later when Chris Casement, booked for his involvement in the penalty incident, was lucky to avoid a second yellow for a foul as Glenavon fans screamed for a second yellow.

Linfield rode out the early pressure and came into the game. Their first attacking moment of note saw Jimmy Callacher head home from a free-kick, only for celebrations to be cut short by an offside flag.

If that was a wearning to Glenavon, they didn’t heed it, as a free-kick from a similar position on the opposite side of the pitch fell to Daniel Kearns who was able to stick his foot on it and finish under pressure.

Mark Sykes, on his 21st birthday, got into space and was played in, but his shot was saved by Roy Carroll, who made himself big.

Linfield finished the half strongly, but couldn’t get the second goal they needed, the best moment coming when Joel Cooper fired a long range shot just over.

In the opening minute of the second-half, it looked like that much needed second was going to come in bizarre fashion when Jonathan Tuffey tried to head clear, but it hit Andrew Waterworth, who shot towards the empty net from a wide position, but a Glenavon defender was able to get back onto the line and clear the ball.

Mark Sykes was not enjoying his birthday, as he was played through, lobbed the ball over Carroll into the side netting when he really should have scored.

Jordan Jenkins, off the bench, had two shots saved by Carroll. The second of which was parried into the six yard box straight to Chris Casement, who cleared.

You get the feeling that if that happened last season, it would have fallen straight to a Glenavon player to equalise, and they would have won it in injury time.

Linfield were able to see the game out in a sizeable amount of injury time and get three points on the board at the first attempt. It was the forth successive opening game win for Linfield. I can remember when we used to always drop points on the opening day.

The four other games all produced winners, with no shock results. Two of today’s winners, Coleraine and Cliftonville meet next Saturday, meaning that Linfield will have an opportunity next weekend to go into a lead over one or two teams expected to be in the Top Six.

Linfield’s game next weekend at home to Institute has been brought forward to Friday night, which is inconvenient for me as i’ll be at George Ezra. Hopefully, it goes a bit better than the last time I missed a Linfield match to go to a concert, in May this year.

Unless George Ezra gets a sore throat next Friday, I won’t be at Windsor Park until September.

The game against Institute being brought forward does mean that Linfield have the opportunity to lay down an early gauntlet to their title rivals by getting six points on the board and then putting their feet up on the Saturday afternoon while they are trying to keep up. It must be taken.

My Saturday plans will now be a trip to Bangor Vintage Market as part of Open House Festival and to see the mural of John Lydon.

The Fixture Computer for Clandeboye Park next Saturday will see Glentoran travel to Ards. I’ll give that a miss.

It has been a busy week of comings and goings at Windsor Park, with Benny Moller Nielsen, who played in pre-season, joining permanently. I was only at one of the matches he played in and he did ok, mopping up in front of the defence.

In case you’re wondering, he’s Richard’s grandson, whose record at Windsor Park was one win, one defeat and one draw. Hopefully, Benny’s win percentage will be a lot better.

Joe Crowe left the club by mutual consent, which was a bit surprising with Mark Haughey injured. I rated him and he was decent defensive cover. It was clear though from pre-season games that Chris Casement was going to start the season at right-back.

Despite his departure and the injury to Haughey, we have Andrew Mitchell as cover for that position.

Alex Moore went out on loan to Dungannon Swifts, which is a brilliant move for both parties, with a good young goalkeeper getting the opportunity for regular top flight football.

Eamon Scannell has went out to Warrenpoint. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ryan Strain went out on loan before September, with Cameron Stewart going out on loan in January when he recovers from injury in January.

The morning of this match was spent getting a ticket for the game at Seaview in two weeks.

I know the date was only confirmed on Thursday due to Crusaders elimination from the UEFA Cup.

Could those responsible not have begun ticket sales a week or two weeks ago with the disclaimer that the game could be postponed, instead of inconveniencing fans with short notice sales.

There is also a game at Solitude that will need ticket sales in the coming weeks. There is no reason why these couldn’t be on sale now, to allow fans to purchase tickets on a Saturday morning.

Especially so with only one home match before these two games.

Not everyone is able to get to Windsor Park during the week.

Next Friday night could be fun with Institute tickets, Season Tickets, Crusaders Tickets and Cliftonville tickets all on sale at the same time.

With a bit of planning, those in charge could have had Crusaders and Cliftonville tickets on sale last week or the week before, making it more convenient for supporters to purchase on a staggered basis rather than in one swoop on a matchday.

That game away to Crusaders will be my next Linfield match. Later that night, i’ll be going to see The League Of Gentelemen. I’ll let you insert your own joke.

My next football will be at Ainslie Park when i’m at the Edinburgh Festival to see Edinburgh City take on Albion Rovers in the Scottish Challenge Cup.

The two sides met today in League Two, with Edinburgh City winning 4-0.

This weekend last year, I was at Ainslie Park to see Edinburgh City lose 3-1 to Montrose. Today, Montrose unfurled a flag for winning League Two. At least one team in blue I saw last season had something to celebrate.

Hibs and Rangers will both be in UEFA Cup action on the weekend i’m there, but away from home. Useless showers.

So Linfield are looking to improve on last season’s 4th place finish and get 2018-2019 off to a winning start.

Then you check the League table, and they sit 5th. Oh for crying out loud.

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