There’s probably no better place to spend a Heatwave than somewhere where there is a lot of fans. Sorry.
Some of them were wearing scarves through, very inappropriate for this kind of weather.
This was unchartered territory for Linfield, having got past the 1st Round of the European Cup for the first time since 1993 (although it was the first time they won a 1st Round tie since 1984).
Bodo/Glimt would represent a much tougher challenge.
They are 3rd in the All Time Euro Conference table (ok, it has only been going for one season) having reached the Quarter-Finals after beating Celtic home and away, as well as beating proper teams like AZ Alkmaar and AS Roma.
Bodo struck an early psychological blow when there was a change in the usual attacking ends with Linfield attacking the Railway Stand in the first-half instead of the second-half.
That mean I had to walk from one end of Windsor Park to the other as I like to sit where Linfield are attacking.
I wasn’t the only one. I spotted one of the Sit Where We Attack Crowd as I was walking back and let them know of the change of ends.
Despite that, Linfield weren’t unsettled by this, having an early chance when Robbie McDaid was denied by a last ditch tackle just when it looked like he was going to finish.
The resulting corner saw Kirk Millar hit an effort into the side netting.
Linfield were holding their own, and getting a lot of joy from snapping at Bodo players as they tried to play the ball out from the back, denying them getting anywhere and creating opportunities of their own.
Joel Cooper would have enjoyed playing against this opposition, if he wasn’t injured.
Despite having Linfield players snapping at them, Bodo looked comfortable on the ball. Linfield knew they would have to be “on it” if they wanted to keep the tie alive by the time they went to Norway.
Kirk Millar was most definitely “on it”, a vast improvement on the previous week’s performance.
Bodo had a couple of attempts at goal, but nothing to worry Linfield. As long as they didn’t do anything stupid defensively, they would be ok.
As well as Linfield were restricting Bodo in terms of clear cut opportunities, Bodo were restricting Linfield just as well.
It did feel that Linfield were having to do more work to deny Bodo than Bodo were to deny Linfield.
Linfield’s other best moment in the first came from a low Kirk Millar cross that Bodo’s keeper was able to grab in time just as Stephen Fallon was trying to stretch out a leg to poke the ball home.
0-0 at half-time, you would definitely have taken that.
Linfield were holding their own in the second-half while being wary of the threat that Bodo had, with a shot from outside the box going just wide while Chris Shields had to get in the way of a shot to divert it behind for a corner.
Ben Hall was then next to deny Bodo at the expense of a corner, making a block after a neat passing move looked to have created the scoring opportunity that would give them the lead.
David Healy turned to the bench, bringing on Kyle McClean (I thought he would have went with Cameron Palmer) for Jamie Mulgrew and Eetu Vertainen for Robbie McDaid.
Straight away, Eetu had a set-to with a couple of Bodo players. Nordic rivalry alive and well in South Belfast.
It looked like Jordan Stewart was going to get the breakthrough for Linfield when the ball fell to him after a free-kick was cleared, but his shot was blocked at the expense of a corner.
Chris Shields was next to be frustrated as his header went just wide. Linfield were getting a sense that they could win this.
They had to be careful at the other end though, with Stephen Fallon forced to stretch out a leg on the line to block a goalbound shot to keep the score 0-0.
You got the feeling that Bodo might score when they got into Linfield’s final third, but never that a goal was imminent. Linfield just had to not do anything stupid and they would keep the tie competitive when the second leg kicked off in Norway.
Whenever Linfield got into Bodo’s final third, they got an energy boost from the crowd, who sensed that just one moment of magic could give them an advantage to take to Norway.
It didn’t come from Daniel Finlayson, who shot over from the edge of the box. Thankfully, no Club Directors were harmed when the ball landed.
Just when it looked like being an honourable 0-0 draw, Linfield got the breakthrough, which came from a mistake followed by a moment of magic.
A Bodo defender overran the ball, giving Kirk Millar a sniff that he didn’t turn down, finding himself through on goal.
I was expecting him to smash it goalwards, but he went for a chip from an angle.
From where I was sat, in the South Stand level with the six yard box, it looked like it was going wide.
Before you could scream “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING???” the ball dropped down into the back of the net, and Linfield were 1-0 up.
That probably explains why Kirk Millar is a Professional Footballer and I am not.
Was it greedy to wonder if Linfield could get a second in the ten minutes that remained?
David Healy wasn’t taking any chances, bringing on Niall Quinn for Jordan Stewart.
They were able to hold out for a 1-0 win to take to Norway.
Sadly, i’m pessimistic when it comes to European games, and all I could think about was the narrow aggregate defeat to AIK in 2014.
This win leaves Linfield just 90 minutes from securing Group Stage Football of some description.
That would see them play at least 57 games this season.
A couple of cup runs could take that to near 70.
The price of success I guess.
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