Warren Feeney admitted that Linfield may have produced their best performance of the season so far in Drumahoe, but he was stunned that his players failed to carry a stunning first half play into the second period against Institute.
Former N. Ireland international, Ivan Sproule, put the “Blues” in the driving seat in the 27th minute when Stephen Lowry set him up, but Linfield failed to add to that goal despite creating a plethora of gilt-edged scoring chances.
And, for their part, Institute looked a totally different side following the change of ends when, according to Paul Kee, a few home truths had to be pointed out in the dressing room at the break.
Veteran defender and ‘Stute skipper, Paddy McLaughlin, saved the day for the Drumahoe men when he headed home Cormac Burke’s precise delivery in the 86th minute to secure what was a deserved share of the spoils.
“Including our European games, this was the best we have played this season so far,” insisted Feeney afterwards.
“We were excellent in the first half and, if the truth be told, we really could have been three or four goals to the good at the break but we failed to build on our narrow lead,” he added.
“We knew Institute would come at us but, unfortunately, we failed to do the right things - the things we had been doing so well in the first half - and we got punished.
“That said, we also had chances after the break to win, but we failed to score that vital second goal.”
“However, I can’t take anything away from Institute, fair play to them, they battled and they got their goal as they were much better in the second half,!” added the ‘Blues’ boss.
He refused to get carried away and felt a draw was a fair result in the end.
“I see this as another point gained on the road and it’s been difficult for us having to play all our games away from home at this moment in time.
“It will be great to get back to Windsor Park, but our unbeaten run has been extended and given Institute’s second half performance, I think a point apiece is a fair result,” concluded Feeney.
For ‘Stute boss, Paul Kee, it’s been an interesting week, especially after losing to Cliftonville at this venue last week having conceded an injury time winner.
“Full credit to Linfield, they certainly did a number on us,” claimed Paul Kee afterwards.
“They did well to stop us from playing and their players deserve credit as they worked really hard and we didn’t have any momentum in the first half which was frustrating.
“We couldn’t get to grips with the game and, to be fair to them, they could so easily could have been two or three goals up at the break.”
So how did he manage to turn things around?
“It was very simple, a few home truths had to be told in the dressing room. We had to grow up, man up and, thankfully we showed what we can do in the second half.
“The players were brave, they started to get on the ball and did what we asked them to do before the kick-off, play on the front foot,” he answered.
“We then started to create chances. We hit the post before we got the equaliser and then we actually so close to winning it,” smiled the ‘Stute boss.
“Given the overall balance of play, they were clearly the better team in the first half but I felt we were the better after the break and I’m delighted to take a point from one of the top teams in the league.
“We’re still finding our feet at this level, but we’ve played two of the top teams over the past two weekends and I don’t think we’ve let ourselves down
“Linfield arrived here and, to be fair, gave us respect for the way we played against Cliftonville the previous week so, from our point of view, we must be prepared to replicate our second half performance every week,” he insisted.