So over to a bit of mid-week football and I juggle my real job with catching up with the goings on in the Danske Bank Premiership.
Linfield continue their charge to claiming back the Gibson Cup. A last-minute win away to bottom team Newry City was enough to keep the Blues nine points clear at the top.
Ballymena United kept Linfield in their sight if only slightly by defeating Cliftonville at the Ballymena Showgrounds. And Warrenpoint Town’s bad run continues as they fall to defeat at the hands of Glentoran at the Oval.
Tuesday night saw the league leaders Linfield travel down to Co Down to take on lowly Newry City and come away with a 1-0 win. City came into the game with no wins in 14 games, which pretty much tells its own story.
The Blues’ last four games away from home have resulted in four clean sheets. In all, Linfield have won their last 10 matches. Having followed the league for a few years a team that gets a little bit of momentum is a team that is hard to beat. Confidence, team cohesion and flexibility. All good things which the Blues have at the minute. Even a tactical change they can handle, with every player knowing his place in the battle picture.
The Blues will look back at this one and think to themselves “how were we not five ahead before half-time?” But like all good teams, they dug deep right to the end and got their ‘just’ reward through Chris Casement.
Casement, who was captaining the team tonight scored a valuable header. It was just what Linfield deserved and on the positive side of things it is another game down and three points gained. For City, they should take some positives from the game. Not many have scored against Linfield, and not many will in fairness. They are joint-bottom at the foot of the table with Ards, both sides separated by only goal difference.
Over to the Ballymena Showgrounds where Ballymena put in a competent performance to beat Cliftonville 2-1. The Sky Blues have come off the back of two defeats at the hands of Linfield.
Nine points behind and the title chase is not over by any means in David Jeffrey’s head. He is a top manager and knows this league inside out. Jeffrey’s won nine league titles in charge of Linfield, and Ballymena are starting to see the benefits of having him at the helm. The Reds had gone three undefeated before this one and have had a change of fortune since the departure of manager Barry Gray.
The Sky Blues got the game off and running with the first goal of the night through top marksman Cathair Friel. A Tony Kane free-kick eventually found its way to the feet of Friel, who controlled and fired it past Richard Brush into the Reds’ goal.
Leroy Millar then added a wonderful second for The Sky Blues. The Reds got a goal back through Rory Donnelly a minute later. Donnelly rising unchallenged in the box to finish. 2-1 the final score. The Reds can still feel they are going in the correct direction as trying to beat the Sky Blues at home is like trying to break out of jail.
At the Oval, Glentoran beat Warrenpoint 3-1. A new regime needs time and that’s what I hope Gary Smyth gets. A great servant not just to Glentoran but the Irish league as a whole. This win takes the Glens up a spot to eighth, and that’s the direction they need to be moving in. ‘Point need to put the brakes on the mini-slump they have run into. Yes, they are 11 points ahead of a relegation place, but with the unpredictability of the league, they have not secured their spot in the league for next season yet.
The Glens got the first of the evening when Robbie McDaid was alive inside the box. He was first to react to a Marcus Kane blocked effort to score. The next for the Glens came from the spot. McDaid this time was fouled inside the box and Darren Murray stepped up and converted the penalty. The third for the Glens was a wonderfully taken goal by Murray. He ran on to the ball and lobbed it over ‘Point keeper Berraat Turker.
The Glens have conceded one goal or more in the last seven games they have played and didn’t disappoint today. ‘Point’s Mark Griffin had a cross turned into his own net by Kane.