Northern Ireland start Pinatar Cup campaign with narrow defeat to Iceland
Northern Ireland started their Pinatar Cup campaign in Murcia with a 1-0 defeat against Iceland on Wednesday afternoon in what was a spirited display from Kenny Shiels side.
Sarah McFadden had the first effort of the game as Megan Belll’s cross was only half-cleared by the Iceland defence before the winger fired her effort just over the crossbar.
On 11 minutes it was the Shiels side who threatened again as Lauren Wade got down the right before her low cross was heavy and Simone Magill couldn’t make a connection from six yards out.
However several minutes later Jackie Burns in the Northen Ireland goal was forced into an excellent stop down to her left as Fanndís Friðriksdóttir crossed for Elín Jensen who’s effort was beaten away by the keeper.
Iceland did take the lead on 24 minutes when former Bayern Munich midfielder Dagný Brynjarsdóttir fired in beyond the reach of Burns for her 10th International goal.
Northern Ireland responded well however and cut through the Icelandic defence when Rachel Furness picked out Bell before her low cross was well cut out at the front-post by Glódís Viggósdóttir when Magill was lurking in the middle.
In baking hot conditions it was Jón Hauksson’s side who threatened once again as Friðriksdóttir got the better of Rachel Newborough before her cross was well cleared by Demi Vance before Hlín Eiríksdóttir could pounce at the back-post.
Lauren Wade who has recently moved to Glasgow City then thought she had the equaliser as her effort was tipped over by Cecilía Rúnarsdóttir in the Iceland goal as Northern Ireland started to pile on the pressure.
With 5 minutes of the first half remaining it was Bell who has scored in three consecutive games for club side Rangers who was next to take aim her effort from range whistled just wide of the upright.
Shiels will have been delighted of what he was seeing from his side in the first half and on the stroke of half-time Bell threaded an inch perfect pass into Furness but her effort was well blocked by Viggósdóttir.
The final opening of the half came when Wade cut inside from the left and her low shot was well saved down low by the stretching Rúnarsdóttir.
Northern Ireland started the second half the way they had finished the first when Marissa Callaghan played the ball into Vance and her low cross was well cut out by the sliding Hallbera Gísladóttir.
Shiels then made his first change of the game on 58 minutes as he brought off Rachel Newborough who impressed as she so often does in a Northen Ireland shirt replacing her with Linfield’s Rebecca McKenna.
Furness then had a good effort in 67 minutes as she linked up with Callaghan before holding off the challenge from the Icelandic defender but her shot was straight into the hands off the keeper.
Burns then was forced into action a minute later as she made a terrific low reflex save to keep out Sandra Jessen who plays for Bayer Leverkusen her effort was beaten away at the near-post by the keeper.
It was the side in Green doing all the pressing and with 10 minutes to go had another good opportunity when Bell floated in a free-kick for Furness who slid her effort wide despite the flag being raised.
On 83 minutes Northern Ireland created another opening when Kelsie Burrows drove out from the back before finding Furness who’s cross searching for Magill was well headed away by Ingibjörg Sigurðardóttir.
With two minutes to play It was Northen Ireland asking all the questions as Vance whipped a cross in looking for McMaster but once again Sigurðardóttir was there to clear the danger in the final action of the match.
Burns, Newborough, Burrows, Nelson, Vance, McFadden, Callaghan (c), Bell, Wade, Furness, Magill
Rúnarsdóttir, Gísladóttir, Sigurðardóttir, Jónsdóttir, Viggósdóttir, Gunnarsdóttir, Eiríksdóttir, Brynjarsdóttir, Hönnudóttir, Friðriksdóttir, Jensen.
Hi my names Josh Bunting I study Sports Journalism at UCFB Etihad Campus , Reporter at Sheffield Wednesday football club.