Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

One bridge too far for my history boys, says Linfield boss David Jeffrey

Linfield's Michael Carvill with FC Xanthi's Serge Die during Thursday nights Europa League 2nd Qualifying Round, 2nd leg game at Windsor Park.

David Jeffrey revealed that a history lesson motivated his players to take Linfield to within 21 minutes of recording one of the most famous results in the club's European history.

The Blues boss prepared his team for a war with Greek side Xanthi with an epic pre-match team talk and it showed on the pitch as they came so close to Europa League victory before a heartbreaking away goals defeat.

Jeffrey compared his team's challenge to being in the trenches during World Wars and although they were beaten in the end he was proud of the battling attitude of his men.

"One of the most frustrating things that I have found – and I think it's a cultural thing – it's us as Irish people, at times we have an inferiority complex when we go into Europe," said Jeffrey.

"I reminded the players before the game that if they look back into their history and think of the nations that have relied on the people of the island of Ireland – Protestant and Catholic – and how they have come together and fought wars together.

"Then when you see the reliance of others on us – and it was a historical analogy – that's exactly right.

"I wanted the players to not have an inferiority complex, I wanted them to believe they could beat Xanthi and I thought they played with that confidence.

"There was no inferiority complex, they went and put it up to them big style and that's what is probably the most pleasing feature.

"We didn't fall gallantly on our sword after a brave effort, we were very unlucky to go out."

Jeffrey then praised every single one of the 14 players who produced a wonderful performance that took them so close to dumping the Greeks out of Europe after Michael Gault's extra-time goal.

Pereira Marcelinho's goal in the 27th minute levelled the scores and the visitors, who earlier had Konstantinos Fliskas sent off, had the last laugh when Marcelinho hit the winner.

"Johnny Tuffey has come in and he has been excellent," added Jeffrey. "Billy Joe Burns and Michael Gault have been superb – really, really good.

"Jim Ervin has rediscovered his form. Sean Ward – excellent. James Knowles – fantastic. Michael Carvill, Philip Lowry, Aaron Burns – awesome – and Peter Thompson, that's as good as I've seen Peter in a while. The boys that came on, Jamie Mulgrew, Mark McAllister and Brian McCaul were excellent.

"The margin between defeat and victory is so fine. If Mark McAllister's shot had a bit more legs we were through, but it didn't happen. We score a wonder goal and think we're through, but their two goals were absolute quality.

"Johnny Tuffey is beating himself up in there because he was beaten at his near post, but I didn't see the shot until it hit the back of the net it was that quick."

Xanthi now face Belgian side Standard Liege in the third qualifying round.

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