Belfast Telegraph

Stalemate leaves Linfield the winners on points

By Chris Holt

Walking around the Oval before this match, and reading the opinions of Linfield fans on internet forums in the lead up to it, the prevailing statement from both camps was, ‘I'd take a draw.'

The first Glens v Blues match of the season is, more often than not, something of a war of attrition — both teams knowing that there is a long way to go and it would be almost foolish to give away too much at this stage.

The problem for one half of the fierce rivalry is that it will be seen as something of a missed opportunity, a chance to open up a not insurmountable gap, but one that would given them a psychological advantage at this early stage in the campaign.

A win for league leaders Glentoran would have put them eight points ahead of the Blues and that's not to be sniffed at, especially as Linfield are notoriously slow starters.

The same thing happened last season; Linfield kicked off the season poorly and met a Glentoran team with their tails up. A 2-2 draw at the Oval suited Linfield more than it did the Glens and it was seen as a failure to kick David Jeffrey's men when they were, arguably, down.

Glentoran knew that and their confidence took a bit of a battering. By the time Christmas had come around Linfield had reverted to type and never really looked like missing out on another title after that.

While Scott Young's side went into this one coming off the back of a defeat to Ballymena United here a week ago, spirits should still have been high.

Yet they didn't, or rather, weren't allowed to, play their usual game which has been easy on the eye this season.

Linfield worked harder to snuff out the threat of the dangermen and really should have been celebrating a win such was their dominance last night.

For Glentoran, though, while it's not a case of ‘the only way is down' if they are to keep up their title tilt, they have to gain something from the big games, especially at home.

Too many were out-fought last night and with more battles against teams who will do all they can to put the flair players off their stride, this young side must learn to fight fire with fire and add that quality to their repertoire.

Belfast Telegraph

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