Player Watch: Niall Quinn

Niall Quinn

Linfield v Glentoran 9 September 2017

Depending on Linfield’s formation Niall Quinn has been lining up as a left wing back or a left back for Linfield. Not only has he these capabilities but he has helped himself to two goals already this season, the second an early goal of the season contender with his free kick dynamite against Dungannon.

At the recent Windsor Park meeting he lined up as left back in a 4-5-1 against a 4-3-1-2 Glentoran, so from the start it struck me that he might not have the most demanding of games with no direct opposite number. To a certain degree, this proved somewhat accurate though he spent a fair amount of his time marking Curtis Allen. This may have been a Linfield defensive decision leaving Stafford and Haughey free to deal with McDaid and McGuigan, though in the second half Allen moved more central with McDaid now in Quinn’s area of concern.

As the match got into its flow both Linfield full-backs pushed out higher and wider of their centre-backs filling the space left absent by Glentoran’s narrow midfield. He was working fairly closely with Jordan Stewart on the left and exchanged several straightforward simple passes with him ahead and Mark Haughey behind to ease himself into the match. Hugging the touchline at times he was careful not to get himself boxed in and ensured be moved the ball quickly and kept his spacing right between these players.

At Linfield corners his job, if he is not taking it himself is to stand dead centre in the six-yard box. This Linfield side is not the most physically imposing that I have seen and this tactic enabled the big men of Stafford and Haughey to get a run from the edge of the penalty area. His main concerns defensively in the first half were Glentoran’s right back Kerr and when John McGuigan chose to attack his area. He was helped at times by Jordan Stewart but on one Glentoran breakaway, he won his one on one with McGuigan with a trailing leg tackle which essentially broke up the move.

He was keen to support Linfield attacks and was comfortable carrying the ball forward into space. This was more than necessary for Linfield with Aaron Burns playing centrally on his own. Halfway through the first

Halfway through the first half, he played a good ball onto the front of his team’s midfield which momentarily had Glentoran in trouble but they managed to clear. Mulgrew when moving play across the pitch was always looking to Quinn’s movement to move the ball forward, as he is athletic and runs easily on the ball.

Whilst Glentoran had their moments in the first half he was not unduly troubled defensively and spent most of that half exchanging passes with Stewart, and putting in the occasional cross as his left foot is an alternative to the more intricate dribbling from Stewart along that flank. His best moment in the first half was putting an excellent ball into space for Lowry which had Glentoran backpedalling.

In the second half, he was challenged more in the air with deeper and longer balls. Whilst not winning them all he did enough to ensure his flank wasn’t breached through losing the header or letting flick-ons go through. Glentoran’s goalkeeper Morris seemed intent on quick kicks down his channel and he was close enough to McDaid to prevent one of his lobs causing any damage. On another fast Glentoran move, he successfully blocked Allen’s run off the ball without the referee seeing it. I expected him to be put under some pressure when Glentoran brought on winger Delaney but this did not materialise as he ended up playing in central midfield. His area was still being targeted more than his team’s right flank and some crosses were starting to sneak in around him but more due to the weight of numbers than poor play on his part.

His forays forward in the second half were less frequent than the first half but with his team winning one – nil there was less need for this. He did lose possession just inside his opponents’ half due to being outnumbered but most of his time in that part of the field he was involved with taking freekicks.

All in all, it was a fairly straightforward run out for Niall Quinn. He did all that was asked of him, broke forward at the right times and his left foot is an integral part of the Linfield team. He has every right to be pleased with his contribution in this derby outing.