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.