The Scottish Football Association
Paul Hanlon is congratulated by his team mates


Under-21s defeat Northern Ireland

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Under-21 International Challenge Match

Scotland 3-1 Northern Ireland

Firhill Stadium, Glasgow


Chris Irving


Billy Stark’s new generation of under 21s produced a convincing performance to see off a well-organised Northern Ireland side at Firhill tonight.


Leigh Griffiths opened the scoring for Scotland before Northern Ireland pulled one back.

Captain Paul Hanlon gave the Scots the lead again in the second half and a last-minute goal from substitute Nicholas Ross put the result beyond any doubt in front of a healthy crowd on a cold night at Firhill.

The friendly match was a perfect opportunity for Billy Stark to run the rule over some new faces in preparation for the 2013 qualifying campaign as he fielded a fairly inexperienced side.

Dundee front man Griffiths was given another opportunity to reproduce his club form for his country and he duly delivered, opening the scoring with a spectacular finish after only 12 minutes.

Newcastle midfielder Bradden Inman played a delightful ball into his path, and he struck it sweetly  into the corner of the net with his left foot.

Scotland’s passing was crisp and they broke forward at will, causing the Northern Ireland defence problems. However, the visitors almost levelled on 20 minutes when Falkirk ‘keeper Jamie Barclay had to react well to palm away a vicious 35-yard Billy Kee strike.

Kyle Hutton has been on the fringes of the Rangers first team, and he impressed in the holding role, breaking up play well and creating space in the middle of the park.

The visitors equalised against the run of play just after the half hour mark. Torquay United’s Eunan O’Kane sent in a cross that bypassed everyone in the box and found its way into the back of the net.

It was the visitors who began the second half the brightest, almost taking the lead ten minutes after the restart when Kee got on the end of a corner whipped in by substitute Josh Carson, only to see his header cannon off the crossbar.

Substitute Liam Palmer sparked some life into Scotland’s second-half performance, trying an audacious effort from the edge of the box that just strayed wide of the post.
That was sign that things were looking up and Hanlon fired Scotland into the lead on 64 minutes with his last touch of the match.

Alex MacDonald came close to grabbing a goal on 68 minutes with a fierce free kick from 25 yards that was well saved by Wayne Drummond.

Northern Ireland were denied an equaliser by Hearts’ Craig Thomson, who did well to clear Sean McCaskin’s header off the line to preserve his side’s lead.

Substitute Ross added some gloss to the score-line, grabbing a goal with virtually the last kick of the game. MacDonald rose to stop Drummond from collecting a high ball and if fell to Ross who fired home from 25 yards.

Barclay, Thomson, Hanlon (Booth), Perry, Hanley, Hutton (Ross), Armstrong (Duffie), Inman (MacDonald), Griffiths (Palmer), Russell (Wylde), Fleck (Ness).
Unused subs: Ridgers, Andrews.

Northern Ireland
Drummond, McLaughlin, Ferguson, Breeze (Clucas), McCaskin, Devine (Bagnall), Bryan (Lavery), McLaughlin, Kee (Boyce), Grigg, O’Kane (Carson).
Unused subs: Deane, Brennan.

Attendance 1764

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Stark pleased by under-21 performance

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

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