Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cliftonville 1 Linfield 2

So Linfield march on to their third Irish Cup final in a row, where they will face Coleraine. Apparently we were comfortable, finally breaking our Reds hoodoo, 4000 at it, here's the thoughts of EBB:

Great first half performance, followed by a dogged second half display

We more than deserved to win on Saturday, against a side that simply couldn't cope with us

Subs were still a bit baffling, as Stewart should never have been taken off as he was causing with pace and direct running at the defence.

For Cliftonville supposedly having the best midfielder in the league *chuckles* he was made to look like the average player he is, by both Mulgrew and Gault. The two of them were totally dominant and also provided us with good options going forward. Jamie fully deserving the MOM award.

Tino had 1 save to make the whole game, when Scannell really should have scored

Thompson was awesome as well, mind you... The amount of times he won balls that he should have got nowhere near is incredible. Doing the work of two men, he gave the entire Cliftonville back four a nightmare of a day.

More of the same for the rest of the season please, Blues :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Linfield had 3 players representing Northern Ireland last night in the 4-1 win over Georgia. Well done to:

Alan Mannus

Michael Gault

Peter Thompson

The latter scored his first international goal, the first Linfield player to do so since Lee Doherty in 1984. Here's some more photos:

Congrats too to Jamie Mulgrew and Tommy Stewart for playing for the NI under-21s. Tommy managed to score as well, DJ take note!

Coleraine 1 Linfield 4

Thanks to Thompo

IPL, Showgrounds, Tuesday 25th March 2008

Team: Mannus, Ervin, Murphy, Bailie (Lindsay 40), O’Kane, Stewart (Dickson 87), Mulgrew, Gault, Curran (Kearney 84), Ferguson, Thompson
Subs not used : McCann, McAreavey

Scorers: Stewart, Curran, Thompson 2

Attendance: 2398

A big, BIG result at a ground where we have traditionally struggled. We dominated for most of the match. Yet again, when a big performance is required, we pull it out of the hat. Bluenose's brief summary:

Ervin,O'Kane need to sort out the passing

Curran is just rubbish

Great result

EBB has gone missing.

Great photos from Thompo here.

With Tense Nervous Cliftonville bottling it and losing yet again, away at Newry, our new title rivals are the Glens, who are on a good winning streak and are now only three behind. The following fixtures will go a long way to deciding the destination of the Gibson Cup:

April 12th Linfield - Glentoran (I'll be there!)
April 19th Cliftonville - Glentoran

I can't really see us slipping up now, we'll be fired up for the Glens game after Boxing Day, and we still seem to have a little bit extra in the tank.

Next up, Cup semi on Saturday against Cliftonville at the Oval. We're long overdue a win against them...

League table:

1 Linfield 26 20 4 2 61 18 64 43
2 Glentoran 26 19 4 3 62 22 61 40
3 Cliftonville 26 18 5 3 50 23 59 27

Linfield 1 Institute 0

IPL, Windsor Park, Saturday 22nd March 2008

Mannus, Douglas, Murphy, Bailie, McCann, Stewart (Dickson 61), Mulgrew, Gault, Kearney (Ervin 68), Ferguson, Thompson (Curran 81)
Subs not used : McShane, Lindsay,

Not much to say about this one, Jamie scored the winner, Emptyhead back to form getting sent off, 3 points, next.

The significant result of the day was Cliftonville losing at home to Coleraine, a game they should have won but they missed a hatful of chances, putting us back on top of the league.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Distillery 0 Linfield 0

IPL, Ballyskeagh, Saturday 15th March 2008

Team: Mannus, Ervin (Douglas 46), Bailie, Murphy, McShane (McCann 64), Gault, Mulgrew, Kearney (Dickson), Stewart, Ferguson, Thompson

Yet another inept display away from home that sees us surrender our lead at the top of the table, as Cliftonville, in true title-winning fashion, win another scrappy game by the odd goal. I'm pretty pessimistic about our chances now, especially as we have to go to Coleraine on Easter Tuesday, place where we always find it difficult. For what it's worth, here's how Bluenose and EBB saw it:

I thought we played 4-4-2! With stewart on the right???

The pitch was awful and wasnt a game for Stewart to be stuck out in right midfield.

Mannus - Good double save.

Ervin - Rubbish. Was he injured or did DJ also think he was rubbish?
Winkie - Done what was needed
Bailie - Passing is fucking shocking.
McShane - Why? No good enough anymore.

Stewart - Not the best of games but his postion and tactics employed by fatboy stop tommy from playing any sort of football.
Mulgrew - Great game from him. MOTM
Gault - Did ok.
Kearney - Not his sort of game. Was pretty much 'missing'

Thompson - Again 'Missing' but down to tactics?
Spike - Played well.

DJ's subs were puzzling. Who was the other subs?

my opinion about Saturday is...

S***e, absolute f*****g s***e!

Jeffrey yet again got things totally wrong, with his initial team selection.

McCann and Douglas both should have started, yet find themselves on the bench?

The players that where selected though, should have been good enough and failed to deliver. Fun times at Ballyskeagh *rolleyes*

Great photos as always from Thompo on SSS.

League table looks like this:

1 Cliftonville 24 18 5 1 49 20 59 29
2 Linfield 24 18 4 2 56 17 58 39
3 Glentoran 24 17 4 3 56 22 55 34

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Linfield 3 Derry City 1

The matchwinners (thanks to Thompo and SSS)

Setanta Cup group stage, Windsor Park, Monday 10th March 2008

Team: Mannus, Douglas, Gault, Kearney (Ferguson 56), Lindsay, Dickson, Thompson, McCann, Mulgrew (Ervin), Stewart, Downey (Murphy 39)

Scorers: Stewart, Thompson, Ferguson (pen)

The life of an exile is particularly difficult on big game nights such as Monday. No Setanta Ireland in France, no internet connection, so no live streaming nor internet radio commentary, so all I was left with was text updates from those who were in attendance, specifically, the mighty Bluenose.

Just to give you a taster of how I experience a match, I'll show all the texts I got. There's truly nothing like being there...

19:38 Wait till you here this - mannus, ervin, douglas, lindsay, mcshane, dickson, gault, downey, kearney, thompson and stewart! Fathead!

He then called me shortly after to make a quick correction, that Dougie was RB, Gault CB, McCann LB and Mulgrew CM. Then:

19:54 Shite linfield crowd! Shite weather lol

20:35 1-0 linfield. Stewart. Not sure what happened lol

20:36 Dougie and Gault playing well

20:48 2-0 thompson

20:49 Downey off injured with Winkie on. Gault midfield!

20:59 2-0 half time. Big brawl at the end. Derry player headbutted gault and MASSIVE brawl. No cards. A disgrace! IT continued up the tunnel.

21:05 2nd half will be explosive! Gaulty was going beserk! Re- jeffrey [I'd said he was a tactical genius]. I'll wait till after.

21:24 All linfield. Some great football. Kearney off injured. Spike on.

21:47 2-1 - dickson is done. Like playing with 10 men ffs

21:50 Mulgrew off injured. Ervin on. Still 2-1

Then he phoned me when we got the penalty, I heard the cheer as Spike scored, various derogatory comments from his da about Derry :D and 'Easy!' chants. Then I got this twice:

21:55 Fuck derry city!

21:57 Another brawl! Gaulty!

22.05 Over. 3-1.

22:21 They all played well!Good atmosphere and that's the best we've played all season!

Here's EBB's summary:

Gaulty was on a different level altogether last night, absoultely outstanding.

We've been saving that performance for weeks and fully deserved the win.

Can't fault any of the players, as they all battled and put in a great shift, and deserve all they got last night. They put the effort in, and got their reward.

Mannus- Little to do and couldn't do anything about the goal.

Douglas- I thought Douglas was brilliant last night. Tired at the end and that's when he began to make a few mistakes, but considering he hasn't played in a while, it's to be expected.
McCann- Same as Douglas. Shaky at the start, but grew into the game and nothing got past him
Lindsay- Like the rest of the defence I suppose. Was solid and done exactly what he was there to do. If only we could keep him fit.
Mulgrew- I thought Jamie was excellent last night. Done his job breaking up play, and carried a bit of a threat going forward.
Kearney- Class. Again, Derry didn't know how to cope with him. Very evident just how good he is, when he went off.
Dickson- Quiet, but effective. Always available when needed and looked to run at the full back.
Stewart- Awesome. Like Kearney, he had Derry in knots and they also couldn't cope with him. In the end, they had to resort to bringing him down. Never a penalty though
Thompson- Up on his own and gave the Derry defence hell. Never given a minutes peace as Peter was chasing everything. Glad he got the goal his performance deserved.

Gault- The real MOM I don't think there's a better player in the country, when Gaulty puts in performances like that. Nothing got past him at all. Even in centre half, he looked class. His first 3 tackles, he had no right to win yet he still came out on top! Awesome!

DJ got everything spot on as well, despite his initial team selection scaring the shite out of me

Comments on the game on Hatchets and Hammers.

Thompo's great photos, as always, on South Stand Says.

OK, the video was posted by bitter Derry fans, and no, it wasn't a penalty, but here's a taster of the game and the incident for Spike's penalty:

And here's the match highlights via BBC:

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Linfield 3 Larne 0

Carnegie Irish Premier League, Windsor Park, Saturday 8th March 2008

Team: Mannus, Ervin, Murphy, Bailie, McShane, Curran (Mulgrew 46), Gault (Downey 76), Kearney (Dickson 73), Stewart, Ferguson, Thompson
Unused subs: Burns, Douglas

Scorers: Thompson, Stewart 2

A training match, a stroll in the Park, a disappointment we didn't score double against a poor team bottom of the league, thus allowing our nearest chasers, Cliftonville, to gain a goal on us after their 5-1 demolition of 10-man DC, that pub team we couldn't beat 2 weeks ago. Here's some views, first from Bluenose:

I thought Bailie, Winkie and McShane were all suspect today. Dodgy as fuck.

Ervin played well as did Stewart.

O'Kane was missed big style

and from DGIG:

Tommy Stewart was simply excellent, and Oran Kearney also looks to be recapturing his best form.

Despite being under no pressure, our defence were dreadful in possession, and Pat McShane illustrated perfectly what Aidan O'Kane's been bringing to the team this last couple of months. O'Kane pulled his hamstring in training. No doubt Ervin was brilliant from the few seconds of highlights you saw.

The only other thing that stood out in the game were our profligate finishing, yet again, and especially from Ferguson, and yet another abject display of refereeing.

The substitutions were pretty curious as well, unless Curran took a knock and Jeffrey intends dropping Bailie and Ferguson on Monday.

Excellent photos as always from Thompo here.

Some points:

-Bailie and Spike started, and played their 3rd 90 minutes (more or less) in 8 days. They can't seriously both be starting on Monday in the Setanta against Derry City, can they? Can they? four 90-minute shifts for a 38- and 39 year-old respectively in 1o days? Surely not?

Tommy in jubilant mood (thanks to Thompo)

-Tommy Stewart yet again showed why he should be starting from now till the end of the season. The worrying thing was he scored his 2 goals from right-wing, which might give our manager ideas. PLAY HIM AND THOMPO UP FRONT DJ!

-If DJ can't trust Billy-Joe Burns for 20 minutes in a match we've already won against a nothing opposition, when IS he going to trust him? Ever? Clueless.

-Thompo seems to have lost form and confidence, despite still scoring.

- Our old clean-sweep back four is coming to the end of their usable lives. McShane and Noel could and should be playing their last seasons. Where we go next, when Lindsay's always injured, Watson and McVey knocked us back, and DJ has no faith in BJB, is anyone's guess.

Irish Cup Semi-Final Draw

Cliftonville vs Linfield, The Oval, 29th March 2008
(Coleraine vs Donegal Celtic, Ballymena, same day)

Really didn't expcet this draw. Irish Cup draws in the past have been notoriously rigged to keep the two strongest teams/clubs apart with a view to getting the biggest possible final (I'll put a video up later of a previous semi draw if I can be bothered) and a part of me believes the IFA messed up! But this draw is tasty, and troublesome, for all sorts of reasons:

1. Rangers vs Celtic is on the same day
2. Reds and Blues fans would normally take the same route through the city centre to the Oval
3. Linfield fans are going to be accommodated in the home end, which could be interesting seeing as many East Belfast Glenmen, beered up after the Rangers match, will have nothing better to do than to scrap with Bluemen
4. By all accounts, Reds fans are going to have to meet at Solitude and be bussed to the game, an arrangement I'm sure they'll be delighted with. Not. Welcome to our world.

Linfield did play Cliftonville once previously at the Oval since 'the end of the Troubles', in 2004 in a CAS semi, with us in the home end and Reds fans in the City end, but it was a freezing midweek game with few fans there. This fixture has a potential for trouble, I can see a very early kick-off, possibly coinciding with the Old Firm game, which will have a very negative effect on the crowd.

I'm disappointed with the draw, I wanted to play them in the final, I'm not home till a week after so I'll miss the game, and Eddie Patterson seems to have the Indian sign over DJ. However, we do seem to play better at the Hovel (Boxing Day excepted) and we have to beat them sometime.

Bring it on!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Linfield 4 Newry City 0

Irish Cup Quarter-Final replay, Windsor Park, Wednesday 5th March 2008

Team: Mannus, Ervin, O’Kane, Gault, Murphy, Kearney (Stewart 80), Curran, Mouncey (Mulgrew 70), Thompson, Ferguson (Dickson 86), Bailie
Subs not used : Downey, Douglas

Scorers: Kearney, Ferguson 2, Thompson

By all accounts, a much improved performance, but apparently little more than atraining match and a result that nevertheless merely papers over the cracks with regard to tactics, starting eleven and substitutions.

Bluenose's (somewhat ironic :) ) assessment:

simply awesome tonight. From the starting 11 to Jeffreys subs. Thats what you would call a 'complete performance'.

and a rare appearance from ST, as he was fair for once about is God A O'K!:

Thompson and Gault just kept going and going all night full marks
Tonight was Currans best performance for Linfield, thought he was brilliant
Spike awesome
Stewart, showed he is a class act when he came on, once he went through on goal we knew it was going in, regardless of who finished, he had composer to go round the keeper and would have finished anyway
Mouncey was decent but then lost his way second half (incidently, the half in front of the south stand)
Mulgrew also did very well when he came on tackling and most of his passing was effective

all in all please with the opening 2 or so and last 20 or so, seemed to be a bit scrappy between that, into the "fix" for the semi's, and has given me a bit more confidence for Setanta cup on monday night

just for the record, Both Maccers and Downey were both missing from the last time we played well Ballymena away

So Mouncey and Stewart continue to be targets for the boo-boys, while other deserving favourites are ignored. Note Bailie and Ferguson again played close to or 90 minutes each.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Newry 1 Linfield 1

Irish Cup Quarter-Final, Newry Showgrounds, Saturday 1st March 2008

Team: Mannus, Ervin, O’Kane, Gault, Murphy, McAreavey, Mouncey (Mulgrew 83), Kearney (Curran 74), Thompson, Ferguson, Bailie Subs not used : Douglas, Downey, Stewart

Scorer: Ferguson (8th minute)

So Linfield survive for a replay with a very poor performance, as reflected in the comments:

Simply not good enough.

Someything needs to change ASAP.

We are struggling to attack today and fatboy makes two subsitutions that are hardly going to change a game. It is your fucking tactics dickhead you need to change. Not man for man.


Mannus- Little to do

Ervin- Crap
Winkie- Given the run around
Bailie- See Winkie
O'Kane- See Ervin

Mouncey- I've been calling for him to be in the team for weeks, then he goes and puts in a display like that?
Gault- Our best player again, and even he wasn't that good
Maccers- WTF? Swifts, now!
Kearney- Looked unfit, looked unhappy

Ferguson- Battled hard, behind Gault for MOM.
Thompson- Rubbish. Learn how to shoot first time.

Subs didn't get long enough to impress.

DJ- Sort yerself out, ffs. You're the manager, you're paid to manage and make changes when it matters. Once again, he stood there with no idea how to win the game. Stevie wonder could have made the subs today, ffs. Maccers done nothing, other than want to fight with Collins (commendable, but not what we need ) yet he plays 90 mins? Thompson, despite his work and effort, was once again poor...

Tommy Stewart must love Linfield.

It's this last comment which is most pertinent for me, especially considering that at Winkie's testimonial dinner at the Hilton that night, even Jackie Fullerton commented that Tommy Stewart must start, despite Spike's goal.