Stephen Fallon programme article

Posted : 25th August 2022

Linfield were left with mixed emotions in last week’s first leg in Latvia, as two late goals saw the Blues’ two-goal lead wiped out. For midfielder Stephen Fallon, it was a case of glass half empty rather than glass half full, but he looks ahead to tonight's second leg with positivity.

“It was disappointing because we did so well to give ourselves a two-goal lead. It’s always difficult going away in Europe and we knew it would be a tough ask, but to come so close to winning and then ending up drawing, was disappointing.

“Whilst we knew in the back of our minds that a draw would have been a decent result to bring back to Windsor, the intent was to win the game to put us in a great position. So, it was not a disastrous result – the frustration just comes from the manner of it.

“I don’t think they (RFS Riga) should have had a corner in the instance where they scored their first goal, but there’s nothing you can do, only to move on from it. We can only control what we can control and we have to lift ourselves and go again.”

Fallon struck in the 38th minute to put the Blues ahead in Riga with his first European goal for the club and, whilst frustrated with how things ended up, he maintains it’s one of the best moments he’s had in a Linfield shirt and hopes more will follow.

“It was my first European goal and it was something that had been on my mind beforehand, as the Doctor had asked me if I’d scored in Europe before and I said no. It was one of the best moments I have had in a Linfield shirt. It was great to get on the scoresheet and It’s something I need to add to my game because I get in good positions and I get forward, so the goals are all that’s lacking. I’m determined to increase my goal tally this season.”

The 25-year-old - who signed from Swansea City in 2016 – has evolved into one of the top midfielders in the Irish League. He is a classy performer for the Blues but he has another ambition – to stay consistently fit and avoid niggly injuries.

“I’ve been working hard on gym programmes and stuff like that to try and ensure I stay fit this season and avoid any little injuries. I was rested on Sunday when the lads got a good win away to Newry in the league but I should hopefully be fit and raring to go for RFS Riga, all being well. Fortunately, we have a very good squad where you can take players in and out and they’ll all do a very good job. I don’t think it would be a problem for us to balance European and domestic commitments this season, should we make the group stage as we all hope.”

One of the remaining players who were only denied group stage Europa League football on the away goal rule in 2019, Fallon sees a massive opportunity and has issued a rallying call for the blue men and women to play their part for what could be a momentous night at Windsor Park.

“If you had told us at the start of this European campaign that we’d be 90 minutes away with a match at Windsor Park for group stage football, we’d have taken that all day long. We are going to need a big support at Windsor. They genuinely make a big difference and hopefully, they know that because it’s something we want to feed off. It should be a good game and we believe we have a great opportunity, as we have been good at Windsor. You never know if you’ll have an opportunity like this again. We want to be the first Irish League team to qualify for the group stage of European football and to add to the great history of the club.

“They’re a good team – if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be playing at this stage. They are dangerous and in some periods, we will need to be cautious, but at the same time we need to approach it with confidence and play to our strengths. Again, the supporters can help us do that.”

Best wishes to Stephen and his team mates in tonight's huge Conference League play off round second leg tie against RFS, with a huge prize lying in wait for the winners in tomorrow's draw in Istanbul for group stages European football.
Next Match
Queen's University
League Cup
Kick-off : 3rd October @ 7:45pm
Venue : Windsor Park
Last Match
Newry City
Irish Premier League Match Report