JJB Sports Irish Cup: Thompson sends Linfield into final
Linfield 2 Glentoran 0: Last week at Mourneview Park, Glenn Ferguson turned on a fabulous display in helping Lisburn Distillery to win the Co-operative Insurance Cup.
It was the swansong of a glittering career, the striker bowing out with a trophy, something he had been used to throughout an amazing career.
On Saturday at Windsor Park, one man proved that whenever he's around, the memory of Ferguson's days at Linfield will linger on — and not in a negative way.
Peter Thompson was always going to be the man tasked with ensuring that the goals would continue to come, even after ‘Spike' had left the club, but few would have imagined him to actually become almost a clone of the legendary striker.
Of course, Thompson is his own man and it is perhaps unfair to continue to talk about a player who has left Linfield and who will retire at the end of this season, but if you are going to be compared to someone, then it might as well be the best.
At the weekend, ‘Pistol Pete' produced a performance that showed just how much he learned from playing alongside Ferguson, and how hard he has worked on his game to ensure that he wasn't going to be regarded as merely an old fashioned ‘fox in the box' type striker.
He scored a fabulous goal and created another for Jamie Tomelty, as the Blues saw off rivals Glentoran in the semi-final of the JJB Sports Irish Cup. It was a performance that was far removed from that of the fresh-faced kid, who really burst onto the scene six years ago.
Thompson has become stronger, tougher, harder to mark, harder to get the ball off, better at holding the ball up and more adept at making space for his team mates. He has become Glenn Ferguson Mark II.
And boss David Jeffrey recognises just what the 26-year-old now brings to his team.
“You talk about holding the ball up better, his nickname used to be shin because he couldn't trap a beach ball but he could put the ball in the back of the net,” joked Jeffrey.
“Obviously going to Stockport, he worked very hard and he has continued to work very hard on his game.
“In the past Glenn was the focal point, there's no doubt about that, he was the master and Peter played a lot around him. For many years, in many ways he extended Glenn's game here because he did a lot of the hard work around Glenn.
“Now, with Glenn not here, Peter has to take that mantel on.”
‘Working hard' was a phrase often used on Saturday as Linfield made their way into another Irish Cup final. It wasn't a vintage display from the Blues, indeed had Glentoran taken their chances, it would have been the east Belfast men preparing for a big day out.
What Linfield did though, was graft — and their manager realised that it was this quality that ensured their place in the showpiece decider, where they will now play Crusaders.
Tomelty's goal was something of a sucker-punch for Glentoran who had started brightly, while Thompson's superb strike early in the second half was a devastating blow from which Scott Young side didn't recover.
“I am delighted with the victory,” said Jeffery. “But I know how tight that was, particularly being touchside and another day, had Glentoran taken their opportunities... but we were able to stand strong. Peter’s goal was phenomenal.”