PETER Thompson emerged the villain in last night’s Champions League first round clash against minnows B36 Torshavn at Windsor Park.
The former Northern Ireland striker shamefully missed a first half penalty kick – one that could ultimately cost David Jeffrey’s team a second round slot against Cypriot side AEL Limassol.
Thompson, so usually precise from the spot, lashed the ball against the body of Torshavn goalkeeper Meinhardt Joensen.
Although it was the best opportunity, Thompson wasn’t the only culprit on a night that will not live long in the memory bank of the Linfield faithful.
Jeffrey’s pre-match plans were disrupted due to the fact that goalkeeper Alan Blayney, suffering from groin and hamstring injuries, failed a fitness test. It meant that rookie shot shopper Ross Glendinning was handed his competitive debut.
Also missing were influential midfield pair Michael Gault and Philip Lowry because of injury, while veteran defender William Murphy is on holiday.
Surprisingly, new striker Matthew Tipton, signed from Portadown, had to settle on the bench – Jeffrey opting for Thompson and Mark McAllister up front.
Torshavn threatened after only six minutes, with an outrageously long distance free kick from Suni Olsen. Glendenning was relieved to see the ball whistle inches past the post.
But, following an unimpressive opening, the Blues began asking questions of their opponents with Daryl Fordyce’s teasing cross whipped away from the lurking Peter Thompson by the head of landy defender Jonas Rasmussen.
McAllister then threaded a sublime pass into the path of Fordyce, but his first time effort was brilliantly beaten away by Meinhardt Joensen.
Linfield had serious appeals for a hand ball waved away by Belgian referee Wim Smet after Brian McCaul’s shot appeared to be cleared by the arm of Atli Danielsen.
The Blues threatened again on 34 minutes. This time Damien Curran cutting in from the left, but the goalkeeper responded with a spectacular save at the base of the post.
Thompson, however, spurned a great opportunity with that penalty miss five minutes later. Mulgrew tore into the box only to be upended by the flailing boot of Rasmussen. This time the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
The usually lethal Thompson, however, opted for power rather than guile and Joensen got down magnificently to deflect the ball to safety.
Linfield almost broke the deadlock seconds after the break. McAllister’s lightning break took him clear of the visiting defence only to see his delicious curling shot flash past the post.
Mulgrew then supplied an inch perfect cross for Robbie Garrett, who cleverly headed the ball back across the six yard box, but McAllister shamefully lofted the ball over the crossbar.
The Blues were almost caught on the break on 65 minutes, but Fordyce got back brilliantly to whip the ball off the toe of Bardur Olsen, who was about to pull the trigger.
Linfield fans were on the feet acclaiming a goal on 77 minutes when McAllister headed home a Mulgrew free kick. The effort was disallowed following an infringement on the goalkeeper.
But the home team were let off the hook second later when Lukasz Cieslewicz pick tricked his way clear only to see his low drive kiss the base of a post.
With time running out, Jeffrey’s team sent for the jugular and Joensen produced a miraculous save to deny McAllister following a Damien Curran free kick.
Linfield: Glendinning, Douglas, Curran, Thompson (Tipton 75), Fordyce, Garrett, Ervin, Mulgrew, Watson (Armstrong 46), McCaul (Carvill 65), McAllister. Subs: BJ Burns, Hanley, Clarke, Quinn. Booked: Mulgrew 6,
B36 Torshavn: M Joensen, S Joensen, Rasmussen, Faero, S Olsen, Danielsen, Borg (Sorensen 66), Jakobsen, Cieslewicz (Matras 92), B Olsen (Skorini 83), Eysturoy. Subs: Poulsen, Hansen, Askham, RD Olsen. Booked: Faero 61,
Referee: W Smet (Belgium).