This has been a horrible week for the league as a whole. On Tuesday evening Carrick Rangers player Jerry Thompson died suddenly. He was named on the team sheet for their game away to Glenavon but was subsequently removed before kick-off. The story hits home hard for me. No one ever will know what is going on inside someone’s head and what inner demons they are dealing with and trying to stop them from taking over. But there is always someone to talk to. Or a shoulder to cry on. I would say to anyone that is having any problems in their life “just open up and talk to someone”. Life is too short.
There have been calls this week for the Irish League to set up a support group for players. Well, that should be a given – the clubs also should be doing this. Just like a lot of other environments, players should be attending something that is there to help them. Personally, it’s a start and it helps. It is the hardest thing to open up. But it can be done and it is up to the league and the clubs to show the willingness to help their players. These players, on top of whatever problems they are going through away from football, take abuse both online and on the pitch regularly. The authorities need to act and help. This week I will keep my round up short and sweet as our thoughts are with the Thompson family at this horrible time.
Warrenpoint Town 0-2 Linfield
The Blues stay top, two points clear after this well-worked win away to bottom of the league team Warrenpoint Town. Andrew Waterworth scored the opener with a wonderful lob over the Point keeper, Matthew Lynch. The Blues sealed all three points in the second half with Shayne Lavery latching onto a long ball forward to fire home past Lynch.
Larne 2-2 Coleraine
The draw keeps the Bannsiders in 2nd place and Larne in 6th. The Inver Reds got the game off to a flyer. A long ball forward was totally misjudged by the Bannsiders’ defender Stephen Douglas. He headed the ball towards Davy McDaid who then put the ball through to Johnny McMurray whose shot could only be parried by the Bannsiders’ keeper, Chris Johns, to the feet of McDaid who applied the finish.
The Bannsiders then turned the game upside-down. First, it was Eoin Bradley who fired an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net to make it 1-1. Then the Bannsider’s took the lead. Josh Carson was on hand to poke the ball home after it was not cleared from a corner. The Inver Reds got the game all square in the second half as Mark Randall latched onto a long ball and finished to make it 2-2.
Glentoran 1-1 Crusaders
The Crues stay in third after Saturday’s result, but the Glens are right in their faces. Not just on a playing front, but they also have a game in hand on the Crues. Which, if they win, will put them one point behind the Crues. The Glens will probably feel they should have won this. The scoring in this one was kept until late on and it was the Crues that got the first. A wonderful Jamie McGonigle shot from outside the box made it 1-0.
The Glens then got an equaliser. Some questionable defending by the Crues saw the ball headed into the feet of the unmarked Robbie McDaid who headed home. The game finished on a low for the Glens when ex-Crues defender Cameron Stewart got his marching orders for something the referee’s assistant saw.
Ballymena United 3-2 Dungannon Swifts
It was a hard-fought win for the Sky Blues but after last week’s great away win at the Crues, they will take this too. The Sky Blues took the lead when Ryan Harpur headed in an Andrew McGrory cross. The Swifts didn’t take long to get themselves back on level terms. Mark Patton’s ball into the box was met by Oisin Smyth who scored. Smyth then got himself onto the score sheet to put the Swifts 2-1 ahead with a lovely side-footed effort into the net.
The Sky Blues then rallied themselves and got back on level terms just a minute later. It was James Knowles this time with a close-range tap in. The Sky Blues rounded up the scoring and the match when McGrory converted a penalty to make it 3-2.
Institute 1-4 Glenavon
Glenavon were just too strong for Institute – it took them all of 90 seconds to get on the score sheet: Andy Hall with a tap in to make it 1-0. Hall was then the provider when his free-kick was turned into his own net by Stutes’ Jack Bradley. The Lurgan Blues made it to 3-0 up just before half-time. This time it was Hall again with the assist as his corner was headed in by Andrew Doyle.
The Lurgan Blues’ dominance continued into the second half and it didn’t take them long to make it 4-0, courtesy of a wonderful curling effort from outside the box by Josh Daniels. Stute managed to get a late consolation through Jamie Dunne, but overall it was a day for them to forget.