Linfield’s defence sees reward for not conceding: August TOTM

NIFL Premiership

After the first four weeks of the new league campaign, we have our first Team of the Month competition now that we are at the end of August.

Our goalkeeper for August is Linfield’s, Roy Carroll. Although this may be seen harsh on Harry Doherty and Richard Brush of Carrick and Ballinamallard respectively, who have both put in some superb performances over the first month of the season, it is hard to look past a goalkeeper who is yet to concede a goal in four matches.

Considering that point of not conceding for the whole month, it then follows that four defenders also are all Linfield players in, Chris Casement at right back, Niall Quinn at left back, and Mark Haughey and Mark Stafford as the two centre backs. Along with being solid defensively, Casement and Quinn have offered a lot for Linfield going forward as well, providing width as the Blues play quite a narrow 4-3-3 with the wingers cutting in to get involved in the play constantly. Haughey and Stafford have not let much by them so far this season and have snuffed out many chances, just as they are beginning to look promising for their opposition with tackles and interceptions, along with both popping up in the other penalty area to make a nuisance of themselves from set pieces.

Our right midfielder this month is Lee Chapman from Carrick. Chapman has been giving defenders a torrid time on that side for Carrick, with direct running causing problems, picking up a goal and a couple of assists as a reward for his good play.

On the left-hand side is Adam Foley of Glenavon who has been in good scoring form for the Lurgan Blues, with a perfect hat trick, of header, left foot, right foot against Ballinamallard in quick succession, completing his hat trick with a superb half volley from a rebound. He continued his good form scoring in the next game in a 6-1 win against Ballymena to give him four goals for the month from midfield, which is a commendable return.

In central midfield are Andy Mitchell and Ciaron Harkin of Linfield and Coleraine respectively. Mitchell has been vital to Linfield’s success so far this season, controlling the midfield alongside Robert Garrett and Jamie Mulgrew. He has a fantastic ability to pick a pass, though is also not afraid to turn and give it to the defenders or goalkeeper instead of trying to force a pass and losing possession. He scored two penalties towards the end of the month as well, the second being of utmost importance to give his team a 1-0 victory over Ballymena. Harkin meanwhile, has been just as important for the Bannsiders. He also recycles possession well along with reading the game and making it hard for the opposition to play through the midfield along with scoring a fantastic goal against Dungannon to start Coleraine on a comeback from 1-0 down with ten men that they ended up winning 3-1.

Our two strikers for this month are Bobby Burns and Andrew Mitchell, both for Glenavon. Burns has only just broken into the Glenavon first team but has impressed with his work rate along with his ability, as it seems he never stops running for the Lurgan Blues. He has picked up two goals so far this season including a late winner on opening day against Warrenpoint. Last season’s top scorer, Mitchell, though has continued his fantastic goal scoring form after transferring from Dungannon to his boyhood club, having scored four goals in four games since returning to Mourneview Park.