WARRENPOINT TOWN 0-5 LINFIELD 7.9.2018

Two successive draws in the League and knocked off the top of the table, it could be easy to suggest that things were going wrong for Linfield. That was far from the case.

The first of those draws, was coming from behind away from home with ten men. The second, against Ards, was a game they should have won, and they had enough chances to do so.

Despite deserving to beat Ards, they didn’t, and it was two points dropped, especially when you saw they other results in Matchday 5, with Glenavon and Glentoran drawing. With Crusaders to face Coleraine, one or both of them would be dropping points. It was an opportunity to pull clear that was missed.

If Linfield felt that a draw at home to Ards was two points dropped, that will be evened up by the fact that Coleraine will probably feel the same about their draw at home to Institute the previous week.

Only separated by one goal (There’s still over thirty games for Linfield to remedy that), Linfield and Coleraine will both be feeling they should have an outright points lead. They face each other on 22nd September. There are still two League matches between now and then. Coleraine shouldn’t even be a thought until then.

Two draws in a row wasn’t cause for concern for Linfield, but a third game without a win would prompt a lot of questions to be asked about Linfield’s title ambitions.

If you were having problems in front of goal and looking to get back to winning ways, Warrenpoint would have been the opponents you would have chosen to face, having conceded seventeen goals in their opening five games, the last of those five games was a 6-1 defeat at home to Ballymena United.

With Coleraine, Crusaders, Glenavon and Ballymena United all not involved in League matches this weekend, this was an opportunity for Linfield to pull clear from the chasing pack, albeit with them having a game in hand.

Linfield started the game looking for goals, with Daniel Kearns almost getting in behind Warrenpoint’s defence straight from kick-off.

Warrenpoint couldn’t get out of their own half, with continued Linfield pressure resulting in Warrenpoint conceding a soft free-kick for a foul on Kirk Millar.

That was punished when the free-kick came in, Simon Kelly diverting the ball into his own net.

Having failed to get a goal against Ards, Linfield were on the scoresheet inside three minutes. As the game went on last week, Ards had something to hold on to. Warrenpoint wouldn’t have that.

Warrenpoint responded well to the goal, having some of the ball in Linfield’s half without troubling Roy Carroll. It was only a temporary respite.

Michael O’Connor went narrowly wide with a shot while Jimmy Callacher had a header cleared off the line.

Warrenpoint goalkeeper Aaron McCarey, on his debut, was so busy, a supporter behind the goal shouted at him “Keeper, I bet you’re wondering what the fuck you’ve signed up to”. Cruel.

Meanwhile, a cat ran onto the pitch during the game. Yes, an actual cat, to cheers from the crowd.

You’ll be glad to know that cat was up in front of Newry Courthouse on Saturday morning charged with Football Related Offences and was issued with a Banning Order.

Proper order too. If we don’t address things like this in Irish League football, next thing there’ll be pigs painted in team colours in grounds and a cockerel walking along the side of the pitch during a game.

More Linfield pressure continued as they searched for a second goal. Despite being in control of the game, Josh Robinson got himself a cheap yellow card for throwing the ball on the ground after a free-kick was awarded against him.

Somebody needs to have a word with him about discipline as it was a stupid yellow card, only a few weeks after needlessly getting involved in situations against Crusaders at Seaview.

With Mark Stafford waiting on the bench, primed for action, he could easily lose his place in the team if he gets suspended for reaching the yellow card threshold.

Eventually, Linfied’s pressure got it’s reward when a free-kick was headed across the six yard box for Daniel Kearns to head home from close range to make it 2-0.

The half ended with more Linfield pressure and a flurry of corners. They just couldn’t get the ball into the back of the net.

Linfield were in a commanding position, but the only case of game set match came in the Tennis Court behind the goal they were attacking.

That was resolved in the early minutes of the second-half when Michael O’Connor finished after his original header hit the bar.

Within a few minutes, if there was any doubt over the result, it was gone when a defensive mix-up saw Joel Cooper get hauled down by Aaron McCarey just as he was about to put the ball into the empty net. A penalty was awarded, and a red card eventually followed.

Substitute goalkeeper Berraat Turker tried to psyche out Andrew Mitchell as he waited to take the penalty. I’m not sure why, the game was over even if he missed. He didn’t, and made it 4-0.

With the game won, David Healy could now give some of his substitutes some game time.

There were goals in this game for Linfield, so it was unsurprising that Andrew Waterworth was given an opportunity to get one. Jordan Stewart also got some minutes. It was a surprise that Niall Quinn came on for Daniel Kearns, as Jonathan Smith or Stephen Fallon would have benefitted from the minutes.

Only one more goal for Linfield, as Waterworth got to a through ball before Turker, and put the ball into the empty net.

A win was the most important thing, but it was nice to do so with no drama, and go get a few goals for the tally. Still a long way to go, but it’s good to get the goals in the bank in case the title is decided on goal difference.

Elsewhere, big news of the day was Oran Kearney’s departure from Coleraine to manage St Mirren. Good luck to him. Hopefully, his departure will have the same destabilising effect that Warren Feeney’s departure had at Linfield in 2015.

If it does, Linfield simply have to take advantage, starting with a home match against Dungannon on Saturday.

It’s been three matches since I saw Linfield win at Windsor Park. If they don’t win this one, I think I might be getting a Banning Order.

Photo Album

PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2017-2018

I hope you’ve enjoyed the month by month look back at the 2017-2018. The less said about what happened on the pitch, the better.

I took a lot of photos, so i’ve rounded up my favourites.

Feel free to vote for your favourite.

PLATT LANE

This was taken in June last year when The Oval was being used for filming a movie about Bert Trautmann, and was decorated to look like Maine Road. I went to get some photos.

I specifically wanted one with 1950s Maine Road and 2017 Oval both in the same shot, and this was my favourite from that day.

CLANDEBOYE

You have roadworks to thank for this photo.

I was held up heading to Ards v Linfield and missed the first couple of minutes.

This was the scene that greeted me as I entered, a crowd with their eyes fixated on the pitch on a warm summer evening.

GARRETT

I like the composition of this photo.

You may be surprised that Robert Garrett is attacking and not defending, he had just kept the ball in play and was now being surrounded by two Dungannon defenders.

PHOTOGRAPHER

I just like the composition of this shot. Taken during Spartans v Linfield in Scottish Challenge Cup.

RAINBOW

Me being arty farty. I love trying to get pictures of rainbows over football grounds. Taken at half-time during Ballinamallard v Linfield in November. A rare time that afternoon when it wasn’t raining.

HAUGHEY

Same match, everyone huddled in the stand to avoid the rain. I like the composition of this shot.

FLEGS

Taken during the Northern Ireland v Switzerland match in November, green and white flags were left out before the game for fans to wave. I decided to take a shot as they were being waved and got lucky.

CELEBRATION

Everything fell into place for this shot, the sky, a well worked goal, and the whole team coming together to celebrate.

GOAL

I like this shot because it captures the emotion of a last minute equaliser as part of a late comeback that never looked like coming.

TIPTON

I was heading to the exit for a quick getaway (in my defence, it was an away game on a weeknight) and stumbled upon this framing as Matthew Tipton looked on as Warrenpoint took on Linfield.

CAMPION

Taken during Cliftonville v Linfield in February, the guy in the red coat makes it makes it with his celebration as Linfield players celebrate in front of their fans.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : FEBRUARY

February’s football watching began for me with a midweek trip to Warrenpoint to see Linfield take on Warrenpoint Town.

That was followed four days later by Linfield’s 0-0 draw with Dungannon Swifts.

Two away games followed for Linfield on the following weekends, against Cliftonville and Ards, before finishing the month with a midweek home match against Glenavon.

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Cliftonville v Linfield

Ards v Linfield

Linfield v Glenavon

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : DECEMBER

December’s football watching began with a trip to Windsor Park, a place where I would spend four of the five Saturdays during the month, to see Linfield scrape a 1-0 win over Dungannon Swifts.

Postponements would then frustrate my football watching, as Linfield’s trip to Carrick was postponed, as was the FA Cup Replay between Crewe Alexandra and Blackburn Rovers, which I had planned on attending.

The reason for this was that I was in North-West England to see Manchester United take on AFC Bournemouth, my first visit to Old Trafford of the season.

I then headed to Windsor Park on successive Saturdays to see Linfield take on Warrenpoint Town and Cliftonville.

That was then followed by a Boxing Day trip to The Oval, the less said about that, the better.

After that, it was back to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Crusaders. The less said about that, the better.

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Manchester Untied v AFC Bournemouth

Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth Photo Album

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Linfield v Cliftonville

Glentoran v Linfield

Linfield v Crusaders

2017 IN PICTURES – DECEMBER (SO FAR …)

Here we are, the final photo round-up of 2017, looking back at my adventures in December. Well, December so far.

December began with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts.

That was followed by a trip to Ulster Hall to see The Divine Comedy in concert.

I was hoping to follow that with a trip to Carrick to see Linfield play Carrick Rangers, but that was postponed due to snow.

I decided to make the most of a football free Saturday, by going out and getting pictures of the snow in Belfast.

There was one final concert for 2017, as I headed to The Limelight to see The Charlatans.

The following day, I flew to Manchester, to see United take on Bournemouth primarily, but I also managed to squeeze in some Street Art photos from Manchester and Salford Quays.

Upon my return, I headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield play Warrenpoint Town and draw 3-3.

The following Saturday, it was another visit to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Cliftonville 2-0.

There’s still eight days left in December, i’ll be at The Oval on Boxing Day, and then back to Windsor Park next Saturday for more photo adventures.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series looking back at 2017 In Pictures. I’m already looking forward to see what 2018 will bring in terms of photo adventures.

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

The Divine Comedy live at Ulster Hall

The Divine Comedy live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Belfast Snow December 2017

Snow – Friday 8th December Photo Album

Snow – Saturday 9th December Photo Album

Snow – Sunday 10th December Photo Album

The Charlatans live at The Limelight

The Charlatans live at The Limelight Photo Album

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth

Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth Photo Album

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Linfield v Cliftonville

LINFIELD 3-3 WARRENPOINT TOWN 16.12.2017

The last time Linfield met Warrenpoint Town was in September. Linfield won 4-1 and went to the top of the League. The following day, they were knocked off the top by Coleraine, who have stayed their since. Linfield haven’t been close to toppling Coleraine since.

Three months on, Warrenpoint came to Windsor Park in a must-win game for Linfield, especially as two of the sides above them faced each other. With guaranteed point droppage above them, Linfield had to take advantage if they wanted to have serious ambitions of winning a second successive title.

It was Warrenpoint who had the first chance of the game from the break down the right was fired over from close range. It was a warning that Linfield didn’t heed.

Linfield were slow and sluggish, especially when going forward. Warrenpoint were finding it far too easy to defend. It would be easy to say that the postponement of last weeks’ game away to Carrick Rangers caused Linfield to lose some momentum. The truth is, they were continuing on with the poor performance against Dungannon two weeks ago.

Warrenpoint took the lead when a corner from Conor McMenamin evaded everybody and went straight in, to the shock of everybody. The scoreline may have been a shock, but Warrenpoint deserved.

Linfield’s response wasn’t immediate, but it came whenever a cross was headed home by Andrew Waterworth to make it 1-1. It was his fifth goal in six games. Belatedly, due to injury, his goalscoring run looks like it is getting going.

A few minutes later, a corner fell to Kirk Millar, whose cross was handled. Some may have been surprised by the Andrew who was to take the penalty. Andrew Waterworth tooke Linfield’s last penalty, against Coleraine in mid November, but Andrew Mitchell had scored two in August, and as he was on the pitch this time, he did the honours and put Linfield 2-1 up. It looked like normality had been restored.

Warrenpoint were not to be downhearted by going 2-1 down, and went about getting an equaliser, and had a shout for a penalty when Chris Casement and Stephen Murray came together in the box.

Warrenpoint’s players were incensed with the non award of the penalty, and seemed to lose their discipline for a few minutes. Darren Murray was booked for dissent, and was looking set to emulate his sending off at The Oval in September when he got two quick bookings for dissent, until this time, his team-mates were able to bundle him away from the scene.

It is incidents like that which show why he is playing for Warrenpoint rather than a Top 6 team. The talent is there, there’s no doubt about that. We would get a glimpse of that before the half was out.

Roy Carroll punched a free-kick only as far as Darren Murray at the edge of the box, who was able to get his feet into position to shoot goalwards, his shot being deflected and looping into the net.

Questions have to be asked of Carroll’s positioning after punching the ball away, He was way too far off his line when Murray was lining up his shot. There was no need for him to be on the penalty spot.

Mark Stafford tried to head the ball away but was restricted in what he can do as he couldn’t handle it. A goalkeeper in that position would have caught the ball or at worse tipped the ball over.

With ten seconds, literally, ten seconds of the half remaining, it was a ridiculous goal to concede. Despite not playing well, Linfield had fought back to get into a winning position. Now they would have to do it again.

Jordan Stewart fired just wide for Linfield, but it was Sean Mackle of Warrenpoint who came the closest when he returned a poor kick from Roy Carroll goalwards, which needed to be cleared off the line.

There would then be a lengthy hold up as Roy Carroll suffered a leg injury. With no goalkeeper on the bench, he was going to have to tough it out. While this break was ongoing, Linfield made a sub when Cameron Stewart coming on for Jordan Stewart.

There could be a case for Cameron Stewart coming on, but this was far too early for it. If Linfield were to make an attacking sub, it had to be Ryan Strain, considering the impact he made coming off the bench against Dungannon two weeks previously.

Chris Casement had a low shot saved, before Strain was eventually introduced, coming on for Andrew Mitchell.

Linfield didn’t help themselves with poor crossing all afternoon. Sometimes, they weren’t even getting that far, taking an extra touch they didn’t need when the crossing opportunity was there, the extra touch meant it was gone.

Stephen Fallon came on for Niall Quinn as Linfield made their final sub in search of the win.

Fallon looked like he would win the game for Linfield when he fired home from close range after Andrew Waterworth ran goalwards and crossed to him.

There were two Linfield players in the six yard box but thankfully Waterworth saw the run of Fallon.

Warrenpoint shot from kick-off, to try and see how injured Roy Carroll was. He seemed to be struggling to get across, but thankfully, the shot went well wide.

Soon after, Warrenpoint would be getting to test Carroll from twelve yards when Ryan Strain tried to win possession after his miscontrol and conceded a penalty. Martin Murray made no mistake. Any injury to Carroll didn’t affect the penalty, he didn’t get close to it.

Due to the stoppage for Carroll to receive treatement, six minutes on injury time was signalled. It wouldn’t have mattered if there were six hours, Linfield didn’t look like getting a winner.

After eleven defeats out of eleven to Linfield, Warrenpoint could argue that they were due a result. On the basis of the game, they could justifiably say they deserved a result.

However, to concede goals so late in both halves, and to throw away a winning position twice was unacceptable. This was two points thrown away. All three goals were bad goals to concede. They were gifts. It’s become a recurring them this season that Linfield are gifting points and goals to opponents.

Elsewhere, Crusaders, Coleraine and Cliftonville all won. Linfield are in the same situation they were in after the win over Glenavon three weeks ago. They’re undone the good work they did in late November when they beat Coleraine and Glenavon back to back.

Cliftonville visit Windsor Park next Saturday, and Linfield know a win will see them overtake Cliftonville into 4th.

Curiously, Linfield’s last four games have seen two brilliant performances against the top two, while putting poor performances against bottom six teams.

If we played today as we did against Coleraine and Glenavon, we would have won comfortably.

If we play against Cliftonville, Glentoran, Crusaders and Coeleraine as we did today, we’ll be lucky to win a throw-in.

Linfield’s title ambitions aren’t over, but they’re hanging on for life. Four wins between now and New Year’s Day will breathe new life into the season ahead of the defence of the Irish Cup.

Last week’s postponement against Carrick denied me the opportunity to post my wishlist. Regular readers will know that I always want a lower league team away from home.

I got that, but the tie against Glebe Rangers has been switched to Windsor Park. Very disappointing, as looking at pictures online, the ground looks more than capable of staging the tie.

Without sounding arrogant, it’s a tie you would expect Linfield to win.

If they do, the next round offers some potentially decent away days such as Knockbreda/Institute, QUB/Dundela, Loughgall/PSNI and Newry/PSNI. Nowhere too far, as i’m going to Shed Seven that night.

In midweek, both League Cup Semi-Finals were postponed, and rescheduled for mid January. It’s an awful shame they weren’t rearranged for this midweek, even though it is the fair thing to do, it would have put a strain on teams facing Linfield in coming weeks.

It does inconvenience Linfield in a way.

If Cliftonville win their game, that will mean Linfield will have a free weekend on the weekend of the Final, just as Glenavon would, with both teams having an outstanding game against each other to arrange, we’ll have to wait a month to find out if we can do that.

And then there is the matter of getting the game against Carrick that was postponed last weekend slotted in somewhere.

Some international football news, Brussels has withdrawn from hosting Euro 2020 and has been replaced by London. It has been paired with Glasgow. Dublin, if I go to a game there, will host Group E games. The London venue will be Wembley, which will host the Semi-Finals and Final.

If London was to host group games, it might have made more sense to keep Wembley for the final games and have group games at The Emirates or Spurs new ground just to save Wembley for those final games.

I’ll wait to see what the tournament schedule is like before making arrangements to attend games.

Before that, is the draw for the UEFA Nations League, and the seedings have been confirmed as Pot 3 in League B and can draw Wales (yes please) and Republic Of Ireland (No thanks)

I’m no Mathematician, but the rankings make no sense. Holland have failed to reach the last two tournaments but are in League A. Republic Of Ireland are seeded below two teams they beat and finished above in the World Cup Qualifiers, and above the team that beat them 5-1 in the Play-Offs.

Meanwhile, the team who won their group is in League C. Hmmmm.

League of Ireland fixture announcement is on Tuesday, i’ll be keeping an eye out for a possible day trip or weekend to Dublin and take in a game amongst other touristy stuff.

Euro 2020 can wait, it’s 2018 that matters. Hopefully, Linfield can recreate last season and use a draw at home to a team at the bottom end of the table as a springboard to a winning run.

Photo Album

2016 IN PICTURES – MARCH

March began for me at Solitude, to see Linfield take on Cliftonville in the Irish Cup, and get their first win there for four years.

The following week, Glentoran were the opponents, but the result was the same, a 3-0 win for Linfield.

After that, it was Solitude again, with Linfield only managing a 2-0 win this time.

Over the Easter Weekend, I went to see Northern Ireland take on Wales in Cardiff, and decided to make a trip of it between Bristol and Cardiff, getting some Street Art photos, and see Bristol Rovers take on Cambridge United.

Upon my return, I headed to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Slovenia.

The next day, I headed to Warrenpoint to see Linfield take on Warrenpoint, ending a busy Easter period of football watching.

Cliftonville v Linfield

Linfield v Glentoran

Cliftonville v Linfield

Bristol Street Art

Bristol Street Art Photo Album 1

Bristol Street Art Photo Album 2

Cardiff Street Art

Cardiff Street Art Photo Album

Wales v Northern Ireland

Wales v Northern Ireland Photo Album

Bristol Rovers v Cambridge United

Bristol Rovers v Cambridge United Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Slovenia

Northern Ireland v Slovenia Photo Album

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – MARCH

March began for me at Solitude, seeing Linfield beat Cliftonville 3-0 in the Irish Cup.

The following saw another 3-0 win for Linfield, this time at home to Glentoran.

It was back to Solitude the following week, this time for a league match, Linfield only managing a 2-0 win.

Over the Easter Weekend, I went to see Northern Ireland take on Wales in Cardiff, before heading to see Bristol Rovers v Cambridge United the following day.

Upon my return, it was matches on successive days on Easter Monday and Easter Tuesday – Northern Ireland’s home match against Slovenia, and Linfield’s trip to Warrenpoint.

Cliftonville v Linfield

Linfield v Glentoran

Cliftonville v Linfield

Wales v Northern Ireland

Wales v Northern Ireland Photo Album

Bristol Rovers v Cambridge United

Bristol Rovers v Cambridge United Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Slovenia

Northern Ireland v Slovenia Photo Album

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

That match against Slovenia saw a pop-up shop appear in the Railway Stand for fans to be sold Northern Ireland merchandise.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – OCTOBER

October began with a trip to Solitude to see Linfield and Cliftonville draw 3-3, amidst unceratinty over the future of Linfield manager Warren Feeney.

Five days later, I was at Windsor Park to witness Northern Ireland get the win they needed against Greece to send them to Euro 2016.

The party continued for a few days, but the Irish League was back to work, as Linfield faced Glentoran at Windsor Park less than 48 hours later.

By now, Warren Feeney was gone, and it was apt that it was Warren(point) where his successor David Healy took charge of his first game in charge.

The final two games of the month saw Linfield take on Carrick Rangers and Dungannon Swifts.

Cliftonville v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Greece

Northern Ireland v Greece Photo Album

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – SEPTEMBER

My football watching for September began in sunny Fermanagh, watching Linfield get a 1-0 win away to Ballinamallard, to keep up their 100% start to the season.

Two days later, it was Windsor Park to see if Northern Ireland could get the win they needed to reach Euro 2016. They didn’t get it, but a late 1-1 draw sent the crowd home more than happy.

The following Saturday, I went to Seaview to see Linfield lose their 100% start to the season with a 3-0 defeat.

Thankfully, Linfield were able to return to winning ways over the next two Saturdays, getting wins against Warrenpoint Town and Glenavon at home over the following two Saturdays.

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Hungary

Northern Ireland v Hungary Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Linfield v Glenavon