Belfast Telegraph

Windsor roar can inspire us, says Andy Waterworth

By David Mason

Linfield skipper Andy Waterworth believes a place in the third round of the Europa League is within touching distance for the club, but insists his team will need a lot of help from the Windsor Park faithful against FC Spartak Trnava next week.

The Blues returned from Slovakia in the early hours of yesterday morning buoyed by a battling 2-1 result at the Vion Stadium, which leaves the door firmly open for another famous night in the club's illustrious European history.

New signing David Kee, snapped up from Ballinamallard United over the summer, bagged his first goal for the club. The midfielder drilled in a fantastic first half free kick.

With a place against Croatia's NK Lokomotiv Zagreb or Greek side Paok up for grabs later this month, Waterworth is urging Linfield fans to come out in big numbers for the second leg at Windsor Park on Thursday night to help make it as difficult as possible for the Slovakians.

"They have good pedigree and European history. They are a full time outfit and are conditioned every day," said Waterworth.

"Spartak are defensively and physically strong and are well disciplined. They are a difficult team to play against, so to put in a performance like we did to help keep us in the tie, says a lot about our character.

"The result leaves us firmly in the tie. It is still alive, which was our initial aim. Had we been offered a 2-1 result before the game, we would have taken it. Let's hope our supporters fans come out next week to give us the backing which will hopefully help us progress.

"Spartak's fans certainly created an intimating atmosphere, so we must make sure we do the same. I firmly believe, as do the rest of the boys in our dressing room, that we have a good opportunity to claim a place in the third round.

"The one thing we have in this group of players is desire, hunger and commitment."

Even though Spartak had to play the entire second half with only 10 men, having had defender Nikolic dismissed, there was only a tinge of disappointment that the Blues couldn't capitalise.

Waterworth said: "It could well have finished 2-2. Chris Hegarty had a goal ruled out in the second half, but the referee must have been the only one in the ground that thought he was offside.

"The penalty they were awarded was also really harsh.

"So it could have been even better, but in saying that, we were up against a full time outfit. Big Guy (Bates) and I didn't get a sniff of goal over the 90 minutes. Basically, we did a lot of chasing when we didn't have the ball. It was a good all round team performance.

"We have come on strong in this campaign. We had a good game plan that worked well. Normally we are an attacking side, but we really couldn't afford to adapt an attacking policy. We had to change our style and focus on the other side of the game, We had to do a lot of chasing and defending.

"We'll certainly not be getting ahead of our ourselves for the second leg. We know it's only half way there. It's going to be another tough 90 minutes at Windsor. We'll be going for the win because we know we have to score, but we must also must show a certain degree of caution. If we display the same commitment in front of our home fans, you never know what can happen."

Belfast Telegraph


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