Jeffrey: Linfield have bottle for big stage
Linfield manager David Jeffrey admitted his side were well below par, but praised his men for holding their nerve to beat Glentoran in a tense League Cup penalty shoot-out.
The Blues have now won eight successive games in all competitions and while this wasn't their greatest performance of the season, it will taste sweet at the home of their most bitter rivals.
Neither side could hit the target during normal time and 30 minutes of extra time, but the visitors were celebrating at the end of the shoot-out when Michael Gault hammered in the final spot-kick in front of the travelling support.
"In cup football you always want to progress," said Jeffrey whose side made it into this evening's quarter-final draw.
"Glentoran set up to play on the counter-attack and we couldn't get behind them quickly enough.
"We were ponderous in our passing and we created very few chances. Against 10 men we passed the ball even more slowly and misplaced clearances could have ended up embarrassing us.
"It went to the lottery of penalties and I think this time last year our players may have bottled it in a shoot-out but they scored with aplomb."
Andy Waterworth, keen to impress on his first return to the Oval since his move to Linfeld, missed the first spot-kick in the shootout but it didn't prove to be costly.
Mark Clarke was sent off in the 57th minute after picking up a second booking following a touchline bust-up involving nearly all the players.
It later emerged that the fourth official spotted Clarke raising a hand to Gault's face and Glens boss Eddie Patterson is disappointed with his midfielder.
"I didn't see the incident but I'm told he deserved the booking and in that case he owes an apology to his team-mates," said Patterson.
"We will deal with it internally. We thought he had learned a lesson, but maybe not. Stephen McAlorum was sent-off against Linfield and turned his game around since Boxing Day last year and Mark needs to look at that. McAlorum didn't bite despite all the provocation out there.
"I saw Linfield players go down easily and that was my concern with the way Gault reacted. I thought Mark's first booking was harsh but he had no reason to do what he did after that.
"However I found out an awful lot about the character of these players tonight and if we keep showing that character we will be ok. That doesn't change the fact though that we are out of the competition and we couldn't step up and score the penalties."