Belfast Telegraph

Calling all the shots: Spotlight on chasing Ports

By Graham Luney

Over to you Portadown and Glenavon. Title contenders Linfield, Cliftonville and Crusaders all flexed their muscles on Saturday before the spotlight falls on Shamrock Park tonight.

It was great to see Reds skipper George McMullan back among the goals for the champions after his spell in the treatment room while Joe Gormley also reproduced magic in front of goal.

I couldn't believe my eyes when whistler Colin Burns (pictured) appeared in front of the BBC Final Score cameras to explain his decisions during the game – Mallards keeper Alvin Rouse was shown a straight red card for a foul on Gormley on the edge of the area – but the home side still feel aggrieved about it.

In a recent column, I expressed a desire to see more referees explain their decisions and hold their hands up and admit an error when they get it wrong. They will get it wrong from time to time – human error is part of the game but referees need to be held accountable too.

I'm not expecting our refs to start loving the spotlight so much they start contemplating a new career in showbusiness but at least Burns has proved that it can be done.

On the pitch it's hard to escape the feeling that Linfield have the scent of title success in their nostrils – despite being only 11 games into the campaign.

Seven league victories on the bounce is the form of champions, while the Gibson Cup holders are having to dig deep to stay among the chasing pack.

It's still very early days but Andy Waterworth is Linfield's new wonder boy and he was at it again on Saturday.

They say that defences win championships and along with Crusaders, David Jeffrey's men are the toughest to score against. Both these two heavyweights meet at Seaview on Saturday and it should be a big test for the league leaders against a side that are on a 12-game unbeaten run.

Before the season kicked off, most fans plumped for the Reds and Blues to challenge for the league title but the Crues – who finished runner-up last time – are quietly going about their business.

Meanwhile, Glentoran boss Eddie Patterson would have enjoyed his dinner on Saturday evening after the east Belfast side shook off the disappointment of their League Cup defeat to Linfield to overcome Warrenpoint 1-0.

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