INSTITUTE 0-3 LINFIELD 16.11.2019

It didn’t quit banish the memory of Dundalk on Monday night, but it was a welcome three points for Linfield as they looked to secure a place in next season’s Unite The Union Cup.

On paper, a trip to face Institute at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium looked like an easy three points to recover from that 6-0 defeat. The reality was far from that, with Institute enjoying a resurgence under new Manager Sean Connor, getting draws against Crusaders and Glentoran, as well as reaching the NIFL Cup Semi-Finals.

As it was last year, this matched kicked off at 1pm. That worked out convenient for fans and players, even though it wasn’t decided for those reasons.

Those going to the Northern Ireland match later in the evening could get back to Belfast in plenty of time for kick-off at Windsor Park, while the players knew that if they could get three points, they could put pressure on Coleraine and Cliftonville, who kicked off at 3pm.

As it was on the weekend the last time Linfield played a League match, on November 2nd, all the games were Top 6 v Bottom 6. You might get one shock result, but you won’t get three or four. Linfield didn’t want to be that team, especially as Crusaders had already secured three points on the Friday night, just about though.

Linfield’s starting eleven saw a return to League action for Chris Casement as Linfield returned to four defenders. Thank goodness for that.

There was a welcome return to the starting eleven for Joel Cooper, who recently had minor surgery after being roughed up by Carrick Rangers.

In the early moments, Linfield were trying to get him on the ball to make things happen. Not a lot was happening for Linfield in the early moments as Institute looked comfortable when defending, it didn’t look like a Linfield goal was inevitable.

Institute weren’t afraid to attack either, but Linfield were able to shut them out. Thankfully, as the last thing you want to do in a game like this is to give the opposition something to defend.

Linfield wee presented with an opportunity to make a breakthrough when they were awarded a penalty for a foul on Joel Cooper. A soft foul, but still a foul.

Cooper immediately grabbed the ball and stated that he was taking the kick. He had already scored from a penalty this season. Well, sort of, having scored the rebound from a saved penalty only for a goal not to be given despite the ball being clearly over the line. Yep, i’m still going on about it even though we won that match.

It was a bit surprising that Cooper was putting himself forward to take the kick, especially with Andrew Mitchell, on as a substitute for the injured Niall Quinn, and Andrew Waterworth being on the pitch.

Cooper’s finish didn’t match his confidence, with his poor kick being easily saved and held by Institute’s keeper. In a game where Linfield weren’t playing well, they needed to make the most of the rare opportunity that came their way.

Within a few minutes, Linfield were given another opportunity when they got a second penalty.

It was for an off the ball incident, so I don’t know what actually happened. However, the referee seemed certain in his decision when he flashed a red card at Institute defender Ryan Morrow.

It took a while for fans to compute that another penalty had been given. This time, Andrew Waterworth.

He Panenkaed it, it really wasn’t the time or place for it, and for a moment, it looked like he was going to miss it. Thankfully, he didn’t, and Linfield had the lead.

In the aftermath of the red card, Institute players lost their discipline, arguing with the referee and squaring up to Linfield players.

Sean Connor was hoping for half-time just to get them to calm down and work on a plan on getting back into the game. It was essential that Linfield made the most of this.’

As the half neared it’s end, Bastien Hery worked himself into space on the edge of the penalty area and fired home to make it 2-0.

Curiously, the move began when Institute’s keeper caught a low cross from Kirk Millar, and then kicked it away, Institute were never able to get the ball back from there.

I’m not sure why he kicked it out, I can only think that he lost his bearings and thought he was going to slip the ball into his own net.

Without playing too well, Linfield were 2-0 up and a man up.

However, it was Rohan Ferguson who was the busier keeper in the second-half, making four big saves to stop Institute pulling the game back to 2-1 and getting ideas of an unlikely comeback.

Linfield weren’t without their chances to kill the game off at 3-0, with Andrew Waterworth getting on the end of a Kirk Millar cross but his effort was saved.

It was crosses from Joel Cooper down the left that were causing Institute the most problems, going right into the six yard box, with a desperate block usually denying Linfield.

Deep into injury time, Linfield did make it 3-0, and it came from another penalty.

I think this was the first time I’ve ever been to a football match where three penalties have been awarded to the one team. It was a foul on guess who? Joel Cooper.

Andrew Waterworth stepped up and repeated his feat from last season, 364 days previously, by scoring twice at The Brandywell.

He must have been fuming inside at not getting to hit the first penalty, and missing out on the chance to get a hat-trick.

Three points in the bag, Linfield headed back down the motorway with their feet up hoping that Cliftonville or Coleraine slip up.

It was Coleraine who slipped up, losing 3-1 at Warrenpoint. That was not a result I saw coming, but it was welcomely accepted by Linfield fans.

That meant Cliftonville went top of the League, as a result of their seventh successive win.

Dare I be that guy and point out they had a run of games they should be winning?

I’ll be surprised if they’re top after 22 games when everybody plays each other twice. However, Linfield just have to look after themselves.

Up next, is a match against Glenavon live on BBC Two, which hopefully goes better than our previous televised games against Glenavon, both 2-0 defeats.

That is followed by a trip to Ballymena, which has been scheduled in after being postponed due to Linfield’s run in Europe. Both teams current runs of form mean they are games we should be winning.

If we do, we get to put pressure on the teams playing on Saturday afternoon. If we follow that up at Ballymena, we’ll be breathing down the necks of Coleraine, Cliftonville and Crusaders.

I’ll be missing that Ballymena match as i’ll be on a short break in Lithuania, meaning it’ll be a 9.45pm kick-off for me local time. Unfortunately, I’ve got an early morning flight home on Wednesday morning, so I may be sleeping the whole way through the match.

Unfortunately, I can’t go without mentioning the game against Dundalk.

I was hoping to go as i’d never been to Oriel Park before, but the ticketing arrangements were a pain in the arse. I had a lucky escape.

It was frankly, an embarrassing result. There’s no shame in losing to Dundalk, but that scoreline was embarrassing. We’re better than that.

We just looked off the pace from the start and were punished by a team who were ruthless. We weren’t as ruthless in the few opportunities we had.

David Healy didn’t really help himself by declaring it not a priority. He was probably saying what a lot of people were thinking, myself included, it probably wasn’t best to say it out loud in public.

If we won the Unite The Union Cup but finished 4th, it wouldn’t be considered a successful season.

If we win the League, that night in Dundalk will be forgotten about.

The best way to remedy that result? Qualify for next year’s Unite The Union Cup.

Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : NOVEMBER

November 2018’s football watching began with a trip to Windsor Park with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield scrape a late draw at home to Warrenpoint Town.

It didn’t get much better the following Saturday, as I headed back to Windsor Park to see Linfield lose to Coleraine.

The weekend after, was a double header, the first of which was a first trip to The Brandywell, to see Linfield take on Institute. The next day, I headed to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Austria in the UEFA Nations League.

The following weekend, it was yet another trip to Windsor Park, but finally a home win, as an Andrew Waterworth hat-trick saw off Cliftonville.

My football watching for the month ended with a midweek trip to Old Trafford to see Manchester United take on BSC Young Boys in the European Cup, my first visit to Old Trafford of the season.

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Linfield v Coleraine

Institute v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Austria

Northern Ireland v Austria Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys Photo Album

INSTITUTE 1-4 LINFIELD 17.11.2018

As a mid season slump continued last weekend with a 2-1 defeat at home to Coleraine, Linfield will have been glad to be facing a team they have beaten twice this season by an aggregate of 8-0, but maybe not so glad that they would be facing them at a ground they haven’t won at since the 1960s.

Damage to Drumahoe caused by flooding in the Summer of 2017 meant they will be playing this season at The Brandywell (Soon to be renamed Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium), which meant there would be a new ground for me to visit.

The Brandywell wasn’t a new ground for Linfield, with a flurry of visits between 2005 and 2012. They didn’t bring joy for Linfield, with three draws and two defeats from those five games, though they were awarded a 3-0 win when Derry were thrown out of the Setanta Cup in 2009-2010. If anyone asks, I scored a hat-trick.

Jamie Mulgrew and Robert Garrett started the last time Linfield played at The Brandywell, but only Mulgrew would be doing so in this match, with Garrett dropping down to the bench with Michael O’Connor, Josh Robinson and Stephen Fallon coming into the team.

Joel Cooper was one of those who dropped to the bench, having suffered a dip in form since being kicked out of the game at The Oval a few weeks back. Purely coincidental.

O’Connor missed last week’s game against Coleraine due to suspension, in farcical circumstances due to the club having to flag it up. We might have disadvantaged ourselves against Coleraine, but it would have bitten us in the arse later down the line, so honesty was the best policy.

Linfield were almost punished again for a poor refereeing performance thee months later.

Pre-match arrangements meant meeting at Drumahoe Park and Ride, just past Drumahoe as you drive into Derry City Centre.

A 1pm kick-off wasn’t surprising, but if it was a 3pm kick-off, I would have headed up early and spent some time in the City Centre.

Popping to a local shop to get some lunch meant that I didn’t get a chance to have a nosey around the ground, which stands abandoned. Maybe next time, if there is a next time.

Linfield struggled in their first visits to Drumahoe, losing their first two visits and drawing their third, which was almost costly in the title race in 2004. Since then, they’ve been unbeaten there.

I had visited Drumahoe three times, all of which were tricky games for Linfield, a 1-1 draw in 2014, a 1-0 win in 2015, and a 2-0 win in 2017 which sounds a lot more comfortable than it was.

Those with a sense of humour will have noticed that Linfield were lining up at The Brandywell wearing red and white, in a game that had a slow start, the first real attacking moment of note coming when Chris Casement found space down the right, but Andrew Waterworth couldn’t get on the end of his cross.

A few minutes later, a quick Institute counter attack saw Michael McCrudden fire home after a shot was saved by Roy Carroll.

The goal was timed at 13 minutes. It was the fifth successive Saturday that Linfield had gone 1-0 down. Four of those were in the first twenty minutes. I keep saying it, it’s a bad habit to get into, and we don’t appear to be getting out of it. We won’t come from behind every time we go 1-0 down, the last four weeks have shown this.

This week was different, the response from Linfield was more positive. They actually looked like scoring in response.

Jordan Stewart and Andrew Waterworth both had shots saved as Linfield searched for an equaliser.

It wasn’t all one way traffic, as Michael McCrudden curled an effort just wide. For a moment, it looked in from where I was.

It was already tough enough coming from 1-0 down, we really could have done without going 2-0 down.

Crosses were coming in quicker, not giving Institute a chance to defend it properly, and second balls were being picked up, usually by Jamie Mulgrew.

One of those saw a goalbound shot which was denied by a world class save, before a run was halted by a foul on the edge of the penalty area.

Chris Casement and Niall Quinn were around the ball, but it was set up perfectly for Quinn. It wasn’t a clean strike, but it was enough for the ball to go into the back of the net for 1-1.

Importantly, it meant that unlike the previous four Saturdays, Linfield had remedied the 0-1 deficit in the first-half.

They almost went in at half-time in front. They had enough chances, with a Kirk Millar header from the byline being unable to be finished, while Michael O’Connor headed just wide.

In the early minutes of the second-half, Andrew Waterworth finished from close range, only to be denied by an offside flag to little progress.

There was a roar from Linfield’s fans, to urge their team on, but that soon changed to a goal roar, as the Referee overruled the Linesman and awarded the goal. TV footage revealed this to be the correct decision as the ball hit an Institute defender last.

Andrew Waterworth had a shot deflected over while Kirk Millar had an overhead kick saved as Linfield searched for a third goal that would surely secure the points.

It was Millar who got that goal when he headed home from close range to make it 3-1.

Millar was then replaced by Joel Cooper, who went straight on a run which set up a shot for Jordan Stewart, as he looked to recover his form to get back into the starting eleven.

Jamie Mulgrew fires just wide as Linfield searched for a fourth goal.

Robert Garrett then came on for Stephen Fallon who was superb, usually making himself available for a pass, or making things happen when he got the ball.

One final sub for the closing minutes, as Matthew Clarke came on for Jordan Stewart to see out the game.

As the final minutes approached, Andrew Waterworth was played in by Michael O’Connor to make it 4-1. It’s a pity the goal didn’t come before the third sub, as a 4-1 scoreline could have given Daniel Reynolds or Brandon Doyle some gametime.

One advantage of the 1pm kick-off was that as Linfield fans were leaving The Brandywell, other games were just about to kick-off.

The fixture list was kind to Linfield in terms of other games, as there were two games between clubs in the Top Six. Linfield had the points in the bag, and would be able to sit with their feet up.

As it turned out, Crusaders beat Glenavon while Ballymena United beat Cliftonville.

That means Linfield leapfrog Glenavon at the top, though Glenavon have a game in hand. Ballymena United play twice before Linfield play again, and two wins will send them top.

Those games are against Glentoran and Newry City. I’d be surprised if they weren’t.

Linfield are now eight points clear of Cliftonville. A win next Saturday against them, will make that eleven, and we’d be almost out of sight in relation to them.

One result that didn’t happen today was Bohemian v East Fife in the Scottish Challenge Cup, which has been postponed indefinitely due to scheduling conflicts. What an absolute farce.

Surely the Scottish FA could have had something in place for scheduling a Quarter-Final involving an Irish team. It also craps over East Fife fans who will have to plan travel arrangements to Dublin. At some point in time.

Talking of farces, we move onto the NIFL Cup.

You may remember last season when I spent two months talking about how the Semi-Final postponements dragging on was affecting Linfield.

Due to Portadown’s Quarter-Final (against Linfield) being postponed, the Semi-Finals have been put back a week to December 11th.

Portadown or Linfield have been drawn away to Cliftonville or Dungannon Swifts.

That could mean Linfield fans having to get tickets and buses to Solitude arranged at seven days notice. That will be fun.

One positive if that situation did arise would be that Linfield have a home game sandwiched inbetween.

One thing that is guaranteed will be that Linfield will play Cliftonville next Saturday.

We’ll have to be up for this, and be smart. They’ll try to bully us, and we’ll have to stand up for ourselves and not react. A strong ref would be a good start. A repeat of the performance at Seaview in August would be even better.

Photo Album

YOOCHOOB VOLUME 3

Well, after posting up a slection of the best classic football clips and the best news coverage of historical events, this week’s Youtube round-up focuses on Irish League/Northern Ireland football related related video miscellany.

The first video is from a show called ‘Super 8 Stories’ which was broadcast on BBC Northern Ireland between 2005 and 2006.

The show is a compilation of videos filmed on Super 8 and the person who filmed it narrates the story.

One such feature was filmed by a Linfield fan during the 1960s, with unlimited access on matchday and training sessions.

Players from that era then spoke over the clips of their memories from that era, including Tommy Stewart (no relation to, and not to be confused with the current Shamrock Rovers player of the same name, who played for Linfield from 2006-2008), who sadly died soon after the show was broadcast.

It’s amazing how little the street leading up to Windsor Park has changed (For shame, I don’t actually know what it’s called)

The next clip is from ‘Sportsnight’ in 1989, a network BBC production broadcast on Wednesday nights (Like a Midweek version of Grandstand, for those who don’t know) previewing Derry City’s European Cup tie against Benfica, managed by Sven Goran Eriksson (Making his second visit to Northern Ireland as a manager, his third would prove to be memorable), who went on to reach the final that season.

Keep an eye out 2 minutes in for Felix Healy singing. I won’t spoil it, but his singing is as good as his punditry.

The next video is the greatest end to a league season in British football history, far more dramatic than Liverpool-Arsenal in 1989.

Portadown top, level on points with Glenavon and Linfield, with Portadown and Glenavon playing each other.

The ultimate winner takes all showdown, with a draw doing neither side a favour.

I was at Windsor Park that day, and it was a day i’ll never forget, the intense atmosphere, and the tension of waiting for the score from Mourneview Park.

If it happened this season, i’d have spent those agonising 6 minutes on Twitter, hitting refresh and possibly breaking my phone.

No matter how many times I watch this, I still think Portadown are going to score a last-minute winner.

With all the recent chat about Matty Burrows becoming an internet sensation, though not as sensational as the Leave Britney Alone Guy and Tron Guy, enjoy this far superior goal by Lee Feeney against Crusaders in 1998, stealing the headlines of Irish League record signing Glenn Ferguson, who made his Linfield debut that day.

Talking of spectacular goals, enjoy this compilation from a show broadcast on UTV reviewing the 94/95 Irish League season (Champions Crusaders, Cup Winners Linfield)

Prefer not to dwell too much on the Zeke Rowe in Bangor’s 5-0 win at Windsor Park. I turned down the chance to go to that match, instead going to see the Lion King, which turned out to be a good choice. Hakuna Matata.

I can vaguely remember that goal by Judas Bastard Haylock, even though I wasn’t at that match. There was a brief time in the 90s when Linfield would face Portadown as underdogs, and turn them over.

Now we face them as favourites, and turn them over.

Fucking hell, they even got Sir Stanley Matthews to choose the winner, proper footballing royalty.

The video is also notable for two things, Stephen Watson with hair, and Stephen Watson giving a shit about football.

Whatever happened to Joey Cunningham?

No Irish League Youtube compilation would be complete without this. No words are needed.

As classic Boxing Days go, 1995 takes some beating. Snow, White Ball, the stuff of legend.

The next league fixture between the two took place at Windsor Park in February. I remember this game as it was a few days after my 13th birthday, on which Take That had split up.

Linfield won the match 2-0 with two goals from Paul Millar.

Ten years exactly to the day, Paul Millar would be taking charge of his first game as Glentoran manager, and Take That would be three months into their reformation. It’s a funny old life.

One more video, a reminder of how depressing European Football has become for Irish League Clubs in recent years.

Nowadays, the likes of Dynamo Borat, Bjorksportacus and BK Morten Harket visit our shores during July, but there was once a time, when big-name and exotic opposition used to come and play our teams.

Well, Tottenham Hotspur, but it’s all relative (Talking of which, it was a game against Coleraine, in the European Cup Winners Cup)

See Also

Coleraine Specific Account

Linfield Sepcific Account 1

Linfield Specific Account 2

1997 Irish Cup Final

Glenavon v Ballymena Unied, 1992 Irish Cup Semi-Final

There’s a fucking pig on the pitch

Northern Ireland, Road to Mexico 1986 (Four parter)

England v Northern Ireland 1985

(PS: If there are any videos i’ve missed, or if you want to suggest a ‘theme’ for Yoochoob, comment on this, or via Twitter – see right hand side of homepage)