DUNDELA 0-2 LINFIELD 1.8.2017

It has been a busy pre-season for Linfield fans, taking in trips to Wales, San Marino and Scotland before mid-July, which was then followed by a run of friendlies against Bangor, Sheffield United Under 23s, Newry and Glentoran, before a trip to Wilgar Park to take on Dundela, hoping to avenge a defeat to Linfield in a friendly the previous summer, as well as defeat in the Steel and Sons Cup Final on Christmas Eve.

Normally, I would have went to the Bangor game, but a trip to Clandeboye Park in the League in mid August negated the need for me to go to that game. I didn’t go to the Sheffield United game as I don’t usually bother with games against XI teams. By all accounts, I missed out on a good game. Having beaten their Under 23s 5-1, I think it’s only fair that Linfield get invited to Bramall Lane to take on their first team, on the weekend of Tramlines Festival.

I haven’t been to Newry since 2010 and it would have been nice to head over, but it was a weeknight and I was heading to Dublin the next day and it felt pointless going half the way, coming back and then going the full way.

I wasn’t at the Glentoran game due to being in Dublin, but I did get a laugh when I heard Linfield won 1-0 on penalties.

In the early minutes of this game, Linfield had a lot of pressure, with Jordan Stewart, Andrew Mitchell and Cameron Stewart all having chances to score.

The goal eventually came when Stephen Lowry scored from close ranger.

Within minutes, Dundela almost equalised when a corner was thunderously headed against the bar from a corner from close range.

They were soon made to pay for not taking their chance when Cameron Stewart made it 2-0, just when it started to look like he was going to have a frustrating evening.

Not much happened in the second-half, apart from Dundela hitting the bar from a long range shot, and Ryan Strain missing when he was put through, not knowing if to pass or shot, doing both and ending up doing neither.

Ross Clarke came on in the second-half. A player I rate highly, he has been gradually getting game time as he continues his recovery after two years on injury misery. If he can recover his form of 2014-2015, it will be like a new signing, and what a signing.

Elsewhere, the game away to Crusaders has been put back from 2nd September to 6th September due to the Scottish Challenge Cup. It’s good that the club have been proactive in getting a new date as soon as possible.

We’ll be away in that round. Hopefully, not too far to travel and a Saturday game, or else there will be some squad rotation in the Irn Bru Cup.

The fallout from the Celtic tie came through with Linfield getting a relatively small fine and having to close a section of the South Stand for the next European home game. It’s fair to say, it could have been a lot worse.

Meanwhile, Celtic fans got their club into trouble for flying banners proclaiming “Brendan’s undefeated army” in a competition they lost five times in last season, as well as “Paying tribute” to road signs in County Armagh.

Interestingly, it took a while for this to be a story. The match was on the Wednesday night, but it didn’t become a story in some publications until Friday or Saturday. It’s almost as if they were shamed into doing so once they realised it wasn’t going to go away.

It seems that some journalists can embarrass themselves by being silent just as much as they did when they were vocal in the build-up to the tie.

I saw pictures of the banners on social media while the game was going on. There’s no way they couldn’t have been aware of what was happening.

It is worth noting that The Scotsman covered the banners as part of their report of the match on the Thursday. After a relatively small fine, Celtic will be breathing just as big a sigh as Linfield after their UEFA punishment.

And talking of press coverage, Linfield have indicated that they have received a letter from the Daily Record for printing lies (sorry, a “memory lapse”) told by Joe Miller and appear to be satisfied with it.

I am aware that the apology was made privately on a business to business basis, however, the claims were not. The lack of a public statement to this effect by the Daily Record in either their print or online editions does not resolve this matter satisfactorily for a lot of Linfield fans.

In the 30th July edition of Sunday Life, they doorstepped a supporter who had been banned for something that happened at the Celtic away game.

I don’t know the guy and I don’t know what he did, but there is no merit in this. Something happened and he has been punished by Linfield, and the law of the land. There is no life left in this story. He did something, and he has been punished for it. That should be the matter closed, especially as it looks as if he isn’t going to appeal against either punishment.

There is no issue with his punishments being reported, but doorstepping him at his job? Really?

The fact a lot of comments, when the story appeared online, began with “I support xxxxx, but …..” tells you all you need to know.

Attention was directed towards the start of a new League season begins with Carrick Rangers visiting Windsor Park where Linfield would line up with at least five changes from last season’s Irish Cup Final due to injuries (Callacher, Clarke, Waterworth) and suspensions (Lowry, Burns)

The four new signings over the summer have added quality to Linfield’s squad, which we expect to see the benefits of it over the course of a season.

We didn’t expect it to come in the first League match of the season.

Photo Album

Advertisements

PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2016-2017

So, the 2016-2017 season is over for me. I hope you’ve enjoyed my photographic look back at the season just gone.

I’ve selected some of my favourites, so feel free to vote for the one you like the best.

POLSKA

Taken back in June 2016 at Northern Ireland v Poland, I like the composition, how everyone is fixated on the action at the other end of the pitch, and the colour co-ordination of both sets of fans.



WILGAR

Taken at a pre-season game between Linfield and Dundela, it captures the joys of going to football matches in pre-season, sunshine and relaxation ahead of the hard slog ahead.



SEAVIEW

I like the framing of this, as the crowd is in position, awaiting kick-off in a big match.



CELEBRATION

Linfield fans celebrating Jimmy Callacher’s winner against Glentoran in October. I just like this for some reason other than the obvious.

PALMERSTON

There’s just something about the architecture of old football grounds that does it for me. This is out of use turnstiles at Palmerston Park, home of Queen of the South.

APPEAL

Linfield fans appeal in unison, all making the same hand gestures, for a goal to be allowed. The goal was disallowed for a foul.



ELF

Taken at the Steel and Sons Cup Final. Some people like getting dressed up for Christmas.

GAYNOR

I like the composition of this, from Ross Gaynor’s posture, to substitutes chatting to each other while the game goes on.

UNITED

I like the composition of this, all eyes fixated on the penalty area and the incoming corner.

SPOT THE BALL

I like the composition of this shot, it looks like a Spot The Ball image, except that the ball is in the shot, with two players getting ready for an aerial tussle.



COLERAINE

I love the framing and seeing players in the background running to join the celebrations.

WATERWORTH

Celebrations after Andrew Waterworth’s second goal against Cliftonville, capturing the joy of the event and the achievement just about to happen.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : JULY

Following a UEFA Cup exit to Cork City, there would be no European Linfield games for me in July, relying on hastily arrange friendlies for my football fix.

I got two of them, away friendlies against Dundela, then a trip to Harland and Wolff Welders.

Dundela v Linfield

Harland and Wolff Welders v Linfield

DUNDELA 1-3 LINFIELD 19.7.2016

Out of Europe, Linfield quickly plugged the gap in their diary by arranging a series of away friendlies as they look to get ready for the start of the new league season on August 6th.

One of those friendlies, was a short trip to East Belfast to face Dundela. It was my first pre-season game. I’d hoped that would be at Larne last week, but the fact the last train for Belfast left during the game ruined that plan.

It was my first visit to Wilgar Park since 2005, and fans attending were treated to a strong team. It wasn’t a full strength team, but I had heard of ten players in the starting eleven.

The one player I hadn’t heard of was Number 16, a trialist. It turned out his name was Aaron Duke, a 20 year old striker from Lisburn last on the books of Dundee United. He was to endure a mixed evening.

Linfield went on the attack in the opening minutes, with Paul Smyth getting in behind Dundela’s defence and firing into the side netting from a wide angle.

It was no surprise to anybody that Linfield took the lead after 13 minutes. It was even less of a surprise that the goal game from Paul Smyth. It was a header from a Ross Gaynor cross.

Smyth was involved in all of Linfield’s attacking play, he was running show.

His strike partner Duke, endured a frustrating evening, but he did get a reward for his persistence.

He shot wide when he could have scored, then he headed against the top of the crossbar. It looked like it wasn’t going to be his night.

Eventually, he made it 2-0 after a cross from Kirk Millar. Fittingly, even his goal came after he had a shot saved, scoring the rebound.

Most of the game was attack v defence, with Linfield doing the attacking.

Early in the second-half, Aaron Burns went close, while Jimmy Callacher had an overhead kick saved.

The match looked like being a non event, until Ross Glendenning let a Scott Collins shot under his body.

Suddenly, the match became competitive when it should have been long put to bed.

Despite this, Linfield introduced substitutes from the bench. The most effective sub was Ross Clarke, desperate to make up for lost time after a year out through injury.

Clarke fired home a low free-kick from the edge of the box to make it 3-1 and secure the win for Linfield.

Up next, another trip to East Belfast to take on Harland and Wolff Welders. It will be my first visit there since 2012. Linfield lost 1-0 there and it set the tone for when the season finally kicked-off.

Hopefully, it will be a bit better this time around.

Photo Album