Belfast Telegraph

David Jeffrey left with pride as Linfield's Champions League fallure

David Jeffrey’s phone was buzzing on Wednesday night and no wonder.

Football fans are often accused of being a fickle bunch, but Linfield supporters know a good performance when they see one.

The Blues faithful packed into the Windsor Park viewing lounge to see their heroes produce a remarkable European performance.

It wasn’t enough to stop Norwegian giants Rosenborg from progressing in the Champions League, but the Irish League part-timers, who haven’t even kicked off their domestic season, kept them sweating right to the finish.

When Kris Lindsay clattered into Markus Henriksen in the middle of the Lerkendal Stadium, leaving the midfielder in a heap on the ground, it was a moment that typified the Blues’ spirit and determination not to be rolled over.

Once again, goalkeeper Alan Blayney was in inspired form and the ageless Noel Bailie has silenced critics like no other player in the history of the Irish League.

When Jeffrey sits down to reflect on the 2-0 defeat to Rosenborg, the word that will stay in his thoughts is ‘pride’.

Many times the pride of Irish League players has taken a battering in Europe, but the tide is turning. Pride, passion and belief are now part of their make-up again.

The fans who kept Jeffrey’s phone busy after the game in Trondhiem were keen to pay tribute to the European minnows.

“The reaction from the Linfield viewing lounge was very positive and so it should be as the players should be very proud of what they achieved,” said Jeffrey.

“It’s not always fair to pick out individuals when you witness another great team performance, but Alan Blayney again was immense, making terrific saves, while Noel Bailie continues to belie his 39-years-of-age.”

Jeffrey knew the second leg scrap was going to be a much tougher assignment as the element of surprise had gone — the Norwegians knew they had to finish the job after failing to rattle the Blues in the opener.

Ironically, Linfield created more goal-scoring opportunities than in the tense Windsor Park showdown, but the luck they desperately needed deserted them.

Rade Prica’s 32nd minute goal failed to finish off the visitors and the tie was still alive right up to the 86th minute when Markus Henriksen netted the second.

“We were a bit sickened to concede the first goal,” added Jeffrey. “We regrouped at half-time and still believed we could turn things around. It was very clear that we needed to score.

“Paul Munster, Michael Carvill and Curtis Allen were sent on to see if we could get a goal, but we did have a few chances and Philip Lowry had a good penalty appeal turned down.”

If the European draw is kinder to Linfield next year and the Blues repeat these performances, there is every chance they will be celebrating at the finish.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph