Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland hold Wales to draw.

Northern Ireland held Wales to a 0-0 draw in an entertaining game on Tuesday night at Seaview in the UEFA Women’s Euro 2021 qualifying campaign.

It was Kenny Shiel’s side who started the better of the two and had a fantastic opportunity in the opening minute when Lauren Wade bombarded down the left before whipping in a pinpoint cross for Simone Magill but her header was well saved by Laura O’Sullivan in the Welsh goal.

Simone Magill who missed Fridays defeat in Norway was causing the Welsh problems with her running in behind and on 13 minutes had another good opening when the impressive Wade crossed once again but before Magill could reach it the keeper had the ball in her grasp.

Wales then started to up the tempo and had a good chance of an opening themselves when Kayleigh Green was played in but she was denied by very brave goalkeeping from Becky Flaherty in the Northern Ireland goal as she got a boot in her face as a result.

Minutes later Jayne Ludlow’s side threatened again when Rachel Rowe got on the end of a cross from Megan Wynne who made her first start for her country but she headed her effort over when she was unmarked.

It was the visitors who ended the half the stronger as on 34 minutes Wynne,Rowe and Green all linked up together before Rowe fizzed an effort towards goal but could only manage to strike it straight at Flaherty.

It was Northern Ireland who were quicker out of the blocks in the second half when Megan Bell linked up with Rachel Furness before the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder tried to play Magill in clean through on goal but she was denied by a last ditch Sophie Ingle interception.

It would be fair to say this was the best performance of the Shiel’s era so far in his opening 4 matches as Bell had another fine opportunity a minute later but the Durham summer signing was denied by another fine tackle just as she was about to shoot from inside the box.

However Wales then thought they had taken the lead as the game began to open up as on 65 minutes Wynne linked up with Rowe before her excellent vision picked out Angharad James who plays her club football with Reading but her strike was somehow kept out by the legs of Flaherty.

Wade who put in an excellent shift then nearly broke the deadlock with a fine chipped effort from an acute angle, but O’Sullivan clawed the ball out for a corner at full stretch as it looked to be heading for the top corner.

It was Wales who had the final chance of the game as they came inches away from breaking Northern Irish hearts when Rowe was played in during added time but her shot was well saved by player of the match Flaherty to give her side a share of the spoils.

The point keeps Northern Ireland in the hunt for qualification as they face Belarus and the Faroe Islands who they are ranked higher than in the New Year.

Team news:

Northern Ireland:Flaherty, Newborough (McKenna, 57 minutes), Nelson, Hutton, Vance, McCarron, Furness, McFadden (Callaghan, 79 minutes), Bell (McGuinness, 80 minutes), Wade, Magill.

Wales: O’Sullivan, Dykes, Roberts, Ladd, Hughes Evans, 54 mins), Wynne, Ingle, J Green, Rowe, K Green (Ward, 82 minutes), James. Subs: Skinner, Clarke, Jones, Francis-Jones, Lawrence, Nolan, Walters.

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