Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

Linfield 1 Portadown 1

Linfield manager David Jeffrey has informed his squad that points haemorrhaging has to stop-otherwise their Carling Premiership title hopes could be jeopardised.

Memories of last season’s debacle still haunt The Special One .

Remember how they lost matches which should have been won and ,consequently, allowed arch rivals Glentoran to pip them by a point for the title.

Now they find themselves currently lying sixth with the series only a few weeks old and signs of a similar scenario developing..

“You simply have to get maximum points at home to be potential champions” he said after pondering on Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Portadown at sun drenched Windsor Park..

The Blues cannot continue this scenario — but must produce the killer punch otherwise they will yet again be involved in another claw back situation with all the dangers, pitfalls and anxieties that inevitably entails.

They have to be decisive, to be winners although I still wonder about the striking power which on paper appears potent but hasn’t so far delivered the goods. With only 14 goals and eight conceded, a far from impressive record.

Admittedly handicaps have been great with a plethora of long-term casualties — who should be available within three weeks — providing adequate reserve strength in depth for the long mine-strewn haul ahead should injuries and suspensions strike.

Man of the match award justifiably goes to Portadown’s 33-year-old Neil Armstrong, with virtually every member of the Blues midfield and attack having opportunities to score denied by the veteran keeper.

Mark McAllister, in particular, missed out on a possible hat-trick.

“Armstrong was phenomenal- and I mean that” said Jeffrey.

“His super show and our lack of real finishing power deprived us of a win.

Jeffrey was emphatic on that point.

Yet Ronnie McFall was equally adamant they should have triumphed.

“We had a goal disallowed, played well and, on the balance of opportunities, could have come away with all the points.,” he said.

Manager’s viewpoints immediately after matches have always bewildered me.

They invariably see it through the colour of their player’s shirts, revealing precious little impartiality.

My advice,therefore, to young journalists is to make up your mind before your interview and don’t allow yourself to be influenced. Adhere to your judgment.

McFall, who spent heavily signing players to extricate them from the horror of the Championship, finds hiself with a limited budget to strengthen the current side.

“It is merely a case of consolidating our position and hopefully being good enough for a top six place,” he admits.

Forget the first half, an advert for a Mogadon, a non-event and fans could be forgiven if they fell asleep in the sunshine.

It was marred in the 11th minute when Linfield centre-back Kris Lindsay sustained a head gash in which six stitches had been inserted after an accidental clash with John Convery and he now becomes the latest member of the Blues’ increasingly overworked Casualty Station.

Amidst silence Gary McCutcheon swept Portadown into a 63rd minute lead, pushing over the line a lay-off from Tim Mouncey, who had chested down a lob following a delivery from deep.

Armstrong kept producing those saves as Linfield’s faithful saw defeat staring them in the face until the 82nd minute when Carvill, easily Linfield’s most accomplished player, snatched an equaliser with a half volley from just inside the area.

Linfield at last in those last five agonising five minutes showed total commitment, McAllister hitting the side netting with what many assumed was the winning goal. They were wrong.

All in all a draw was a proper outcome but sharing points is useless to the Blues if they are to become champions again.

They must go for the kill every time. A lesson they have to read, learn and inwardly digest!

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