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Thompson's run of blanks goes on as Linfield draw with Cliftonville

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Peter Thompson is kept under close check by Cliftonville defender Peter Hutton as the Linfield striker's goal famine continued on Saturday

Peter Thompson is kept under close check by Cliftonville defender Peter Hutton as the Linfield striker's goal famine continued on Saturday

Peter Thompson is kept under close check by Cliftonville defender Peter Hutton as the Linfield striker's goal famine continued on Saturday

Linfield 0 Cliftonville 0: Linfield fans witnessed a rare sight on Saturday when Pistol Pete Thompson was pulled out of this feisty Windsor Park showdown.

His very nickname gives a clue as to why the Blues are usually riding high in the Carling Premiership.

His goal exploits are legendary but for some reason this season the hitherto red hot striker has been firing blanks.

And when manager David Jeffrey openly concedes he took him off and replaced him with Paul Munster in a bid to get a goal, it underlines the frustration within the camp.

It also highlights the goal famine which has engulfed the champions. Five goals from the opening six league games is a sad reminder.

So too is the fact that while it is still early doors Linfield are already eight points adrift of cross town rivals Glentoran as they strive to retain the league title.

‘Thommo’ will not thank you for reminding him but he has now gone eight games without a strike and that’s newsworthy in its own right considering his prolific past record.

Jeffrey, whose side survived a late battering to salvage a point, admitted: “Peter is as frustrated as blazes.

“Sounds strange but I took him off and put Paul on because just like Michael Carvill and Curtis Allen he is capable of scoring.

“I was hoping one of them would get something for us.”

But Jeffrey remains confident Thompson will soon come good.

He insists: “It’s not as if he is playing poorly. He cannot work any harder and physically he cannot cover any more grass than he’s doing.

“He understood totally why the change was made and agreed 100 per cent. It’s one of those things. Once he gets one the goals will flow again.

“It would be different if he was playing poorly but he’s not.

“He is contributing very much to the team effort. I would just love him to score, even a lucky one would do.

“His frustration is obvious.”

You could see rival boss Eddie Patterson was just as frustrated at letting Linfield off the hook.

How the Reds failed to score is a mystery or maybe not considering the brilliance of home goalkeeper Alan Blayney.

He produced a polished display, by his own admission the best of his career certainly at Linfield, to keep a clean sheet.

In the final five minutes Blayney described it like being at the Alamo when he somehow denied efforts from Ciaran Caldwell, Ronan and Chris Scannell as well as George McMullan. Opposite number John Connolly also made fantastic saves to keep out a diving header from Allen and then bravely at Thompson’s feet.

Patterson, who had to reshuffle his pack when Barry Johnston failed to show after attending a wedding, said: “It disrupted us but, even so, we had chances to win it, a couple in the first half and four in the last five minutes.

“Before that it was nip and tuck. At the end we lacked just a little bit of composure.”

Linfield fans will be worried at Thompson’s goal drought and after one more frustrating afternoon, there is further weight added to the argument that the Northern Ireland striker is missing his old sidekick Glenn Ferguson.

‘Spike’ found the net for Lisburn Distillery at the weekend and his former boss has added his congratulations to the legendary achievements of the marksman.

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate our former star striker, Glenn Ferguson who recently clocked up his 1,000th appearance in Irish League football,” said Jeffrey.

“A superb ratio of goals per game throughout an outstanding career. Glenn has been a fantastic servant of local football and without doubt, deserves his place among the all-time legends of this great club.

“He continues to set a great example to young players everywhere and the immense contribution he made to our recent successes will never be forgotten by Bluemen and women everywhere.”

Belfast Telegraph