Belfast Telegraph

Stephen Lowry is backing Blues to deliver

By Graham Luney

Stephen Lowry has admitted his surprise at how well Linfield performed as a unit in their Europa League first leg battle with B36 Torshavn.

Away goals from Jamie Mulgrew and Michael Carvill helped secure a 2-1 advantage that leaves Warren Feeney's charges in the driving seat as they head to Mourneview Park tonight (7.45pm).

Windsor Park is out of action due to ongoing refurbishment work but the Blues will still be confident of homing in on a date with AIK Stockholm in the second qualifying round.

However, Linfield cannot afford to look beyond the immediate task which will involve weathering a storm in Lurgan.

Torshavn will have an attacking mindset and be on a mission to restore pride.

But a European success story would be a wonderful start to Feeney's Linfield reign.

The former Northern Ireland international knows his doubters are anxious to pounce but there's a fresh team at Windsor keen to impress and return the club to the big time.

It does take time though for new players to gel together and that's why Lowry, who joined from Coleraine this summer, is impressed by their first European display.

"I think we probably surprised ourselves with how well we played out there as this is a new team and you just never know how things will click," said the midfielder.

"It was our first outing and there is always a little nervousness and trepidation but I was really pleased how well we gelled in the first game.

"People have spoken about the changes that have been made at the club but we have players here who have quality and experience.

"They are at Linfield because they are good enough."

There's a getting to know you atmosphere at the Blues with Feeney and his players eager to show pride and passion.

"Warren gets his ideas across in a quiet way and everyone can see how passionate he is about bringing success to the club," added Lowry. "He has fresh ideas and he's getting his vision across to the players in a calm, softly spoken way.

"I think these European matches are important in terms of building our fitness for the new season and if we can get through this round and take on quality opposition in Sweden then it can really benefit us."

A 2-1 scoreline, though, is a fragile lead and Lowry knows it.

He added: "They are a good side with some good footballers and they are capable of winning this tie. But the away goals have put us in a great position and we must seize this opportunity.

"The most important thing now is for us to keep things tight and not gift them chances. They will come here looking for goals because they need them. We must be alert to that. It would be great to progress in the Europa League but it's still a big ask. We must finish the job off."

Linfield and Glentoran have signed up to two fundraising friendlies to help out Amateur League side East Belfast.

The minnows have been on the domestic football scene for 86 years but they almost folded last season.

Now Feeney, a close pal of former Northern Ireland under-18 coach John Spence who is now manager of the club, along with Glentoran, have agreed to lend a helping hand.

First up will be the Blues at Inverary Avenue on Monday (7pm), then East Belfast will tackle their neighbours at the Oval next Tuesday at 7.45pm.

The famous junior club that has enjoyed Steel and Sons Cup as well as Amateur League title success is hoping the Big Two's generous support will contribute to its healthy future.

Belfast Telegraph


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