Rohan Ferguson (GK), Chris Casement, Jimmy Callacher, Mark Stafford, Matthew Clarke, Jamie Mulgrew ©, Bastien Hery, Niall Quinn (Joel Cooper 83’), Jordan Stewart (Kirk Millar 76’), Daniel Kearns (Shayne Lavery 80’), Andrew Waterworth
Linfield had to fight hard to come away from the Faroe Islands with a 2-2 draw against a physical HB Torshavn team this evening as their UEFA Europa League second round clash remains in the balance ahead of next week’s second leg at Windsor Park.
Talismanic striker Andy Waterworth wrote himself into another chapter of Linfield history as his brace took him to the top of the leader board as Linfield’s all-time leading scorer in Europe, taking his tally to six goals. And it took the Crossgar just 51 seconds into the game before he found the net when he was picked out by a pinpoint Chris Casement cross to the back post. Waterworth made no mistake with a low finish to give Linfield a dream start at the Gundadlur Stadium.
It was also a special night for Jimmy Callacher, with the defender making his 200th appearance for the Blues. Meanwhile in goal, there was a debut for 21 year-old goalkeeper Rohan Ferguson who recently joined on a season-long loan from Motherwell. The goalkeeper came in for the injured Gareth Deane and had quite a debut, making countless valuable saves in what was a ‘Man of the Match’ performance from the Scotsman.
Ferguson was called into action on 20 minutes when HB Torshavn took a clever free-kick. The ball appeared to be in a good crossing position but smart thinking from the set-piece saw the Faroese midfielder take on a shot. Thankfully, Ferguson was alert and reacted to push the shot around the post.
The Blues’ ‘keeper produced further smart saves, firstly to push away a downward header and then a smart save with his feet to keep out a low shot from Olsen inside the box. Unfortunately, there was only so much Ferguson could do and the equalising goal arrived on 37 minutes when a penalty was clinically dispatched high into the Linfield net.
Bastien Hery also offered a helping hand with a great goal line clearance in the closing stages of the first half to hook away a header from a corner. Daniel Kearns hit the target late in the half but it didn’t trouble the goalkeeper a great deal and the Blues created little in the first half, with HB Torshavn looking more dangerous.
Half Time: HB Torshavn 1 – 1 Linfield
The outstanding Ferguson came to Linfield’s rescue once again early in the second half. The hosts seized possession after Linfield were caught trying to play out from the back which allowed HB a chance to break before the goalkeeper made a good save to deny the winger who broke free. From the resulting corner, a HB player ghosted in unmarked but headed wide.
Linfield’s best move of the game almost produced a goal when Niall Quinn’s low cross wasn’t properly dealt with by the home defence before Jordan Stewart’s thunderous follow-up was beaten away by goalkeeper Teitur Gestsson.
Although it was the home team doing most of the pressing, substitute Kirk Millar almost made an immediate impact after coming on when his cross-come-shot had to be dealt with at the near post by Gestsson as he pushed the ball to safety.
The Blues took the lead on 87 minutes as the referee pointed to the penalty spot after Shayne Lavery was forced to the ground after an off-the-ball clash in the box with a defender. History-making striker Waterworth stepped up and slotted home the penalty to give Linfield another vital away goal.
At this point, Linfield looked in a good position to secure an away victory but it wasn’t to be. The hosts responded emphatically and drew level within minutes as an attacker peeled away to the left and despite claims for offside, provided a cross for P.J Petersen to head home in the box.
What has to be seen as a positive result with two away goals to take back to Windsor Park next week could have been a different story as the outstanding Ferguson saved Linfield’s bacon in the dying seconds. The big shot-stopper produced his best save of the night at a critical time when a home player ghosted in unmarked at the back post and from just yards out he was denied by the flying Scotsman who threw his body in the way to cap a heroic performance.
Man of the match - Rohan Ferguson
Full Time: HB Torshavn 2 – 2 Linfield