Northern Ireland

Centurion Hutton rescues point for Northern Ireland.

Ashley Hutton marked her 100th Cap for Northern Ireland with a last minute equaliser to draw 2-2 with Wales at Rodney Parade on Tuesday night to earn her side their first point of Euro 2021 qualifying.

It was the visitors who started the better of the sides as Megan Bell pulled the ball across the face of goal but Gemma Evans made a fantastic block before it could reach Simone Magill at the back-post.

However on 11 minutes the deadlock was broken when Magill scored the first goal of the Shiels era when she headed the ball back across goal from a Sarah McFadden flick on.

Wales created their first opening on 17 minutes when Natasha Harding picked off a Rachel Newborough throw in but the experienced striker drilled her effort wide of goal when she should have done better.

Sheils were playing some fine football in the opening period and could have doubled their lead when Rachel Furness tried her luck from range before Laura O’Sullivan could gather at the second attempt.

Wales did however find their equaliser on 21 minutes as Angharad James took advantage of a loose ball in the box before her effort took a deflection and bent past Emma Higgins before hitting the net.

It was the visitors who looked the more threatening going forward as Newborough who impressed in Fridays defeat to Norway drove forward before her low cross for Magill was cut out by Loren Dykes before the Everton striker could pounce.

With five minutes remaining of the first half Wales created a good opening following a Evans corner it looked to be dropping onto the head of Sophie Ingle but she was beaten to the ball by Hutton to clear the danger.

On the stroke of the break Magill had an effort from range that was well saved from O’Sullivan as it was curling towards the bottom corner of the net.

The second half started just the first had ended with Northern Ireland on top as Lauren Wade crossed low for Demi Vance but her first time shot was a whisker away from finding the net as it just sailed over the bar.

In a scrappy spell it wasn’t until the 65th minute until the next chance arrived when Magill burst into the area before pulling the ball back to Sarah McFadden but she fired her effort over the crossbar.

Wales then had an opening on 65 minutes when Kayleigh Green wriggled away from Furness but she lashed her effort wide from 25 yards out.

It was the home side who took the lead on 70 minutes however as Rhiannon Roberts played a pinpoint cross into the back post for Green to head past the helpless Higgins into the net.

Northern Ireland however responded in a positive fashion when Furness played a pass into the area looking for Marissa Callaghan but she couldn’t get a clean connection on the ball allowing the hosts to clear.

On 82 minutes Callaghan thought she had scored an equaliser as she tried her luck from range the before she saw her effort come crashing off the crossbar before O’Sullivan gathered as Magill was waiting for a tap in.

Late drama was then to unfold as a free-kick was pushed onto the bar from keeper O’Sullivan but centurion Hutton was on hand to head into the net to gain a point for the Green and White Army.

Northern Ireland team: Higgins, Newborough, Holdaway, Hutton, Nelson, McFadden, Furness, Vance, Wade, Bell, Magill.


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