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‘My manager and my friend’: Linfield assistant dedicates draw in Bosnia to absent boss David Healy

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Linfield manager David Healy. Pic: INPHO/Brian Little

Linfield manager David Healy. Pic: INPHO/Brian Little

©INPHO/Brian Little

Linfield manager David Healy. Pic: INPHO/Brian Little

Linfield assistant manager Ross Oliver has dedicated the side's 0-0 draw in Bosnia to absent boss David Healy.

The Blues chief was one of 'a number of club personnel' who didn't travel for the side's Europa Conference League second qualifying round second leg at Borac Banja Luka, 'due to a wide variety of injury or personal reasons'.

Watching on from home, Healy was on the phone soon after the final whistle confirmed that his side had coasted through to the next round thanks to their 4-0 win in the home leg last week.

In energy-sapping heat, holding out their opponents on their own patch was another remarkable achievement and, with Healy watching on a stream back at home, it left Oliver understandably emotional.

"He's done so much for me over the years," the assistant said of his boss to linfieldfc.com. "He's my manager but more importantly he's my friend. Without getting too emotional here, that one was for him.

"I'm still a wee bit in shock (at the result). It will take a bit of time to sink in. The players were unbelievable tonight. I've thanked every one of them for what they do for this club and for the manager, our leader, who's not here tonight.

"I'm sure he has kicked and headed every ball at home and is already doing his homework on our next opposition at home."

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The result takes Linfield's European prize money for the season up to €1.11M and sets up a tie against Luxembourg's Fola Esch - the home leg at Windsor Park next Thursday (August 5) before the return a week later.

It also means the Blues are now just two rounds away from the group stages and, playing in the Champions Path, are unable to draw the competition's top sides like Tottenham or Roma until the groups.

"They never fail to deliver, these players, whenever they're tested," Oliver said of his team. "They've pulled another one out of the bag and I'm so proud of them.

"These boys never, ever get the credit they deserve. The manager never gets the credit. Very rarely do we get the credit.

"We just knew they were going to do their jobs tonight but to come away with a 0-0 draw from the Bosnian champions, it's unbelievable.

"The league gets stronger and stronger year on year. There's no reason why the clubs can't keep progressing in competitions like this."

Goalkeeper Chris Johns was one of a number of heroes on the night, keeping a clean sheet most notably with back-to-back saves during the second half. Modest as ever, he wasn't keen to dwell on his own contribution.

"Sometimes you get shots you can save and I saved them tonight," he said.

"We defended extremely well throughout the game in extreme heat. Even I was starting to cramp up and I'm not running about like the rest of the boys. It was an extremely good result to get out of here with a draw. We were at our best in the first leg and they weren't up to par. Then it was a matter of just getting the job done but keeping a clean sheet was very pleasing."


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