A very creditable draw for the U21 boys against Northern Ireland

Saturday, September 7, 2019, 11:21

UEFA U21 Qualifying Group 8 European Championship 2021

Ballymena Showgrounds, Northern Ireland_06.09.2019

N. Ireland ….. 0

Malta ..…….. 0

N.Ireland :- Conor Hazard, Eoin Toal, Robert Burns, Kofi Balmer, Jake Dunwoody, Alfie McCalmont (Ethan Galbraith71), Kyle McClean (Lewis McCann 78), David Parkhouse, Shea Gordon (Cameron Palmer 72), Lewis Thompson, Caolan Boyd Munce (Cristopher Gallagher 88). Coach – Ian Baraclough.

Malta :- Andreas Vella, Zachary Grech, Gary Camilleri, Kurt Shaw, Nick Pulis, Jean Borg, Aidan Friggieri (Jan Tanti 81), Michele Sansone, Zachary Brincat (Omar Elouni 92), Jan Busuttil (David Xuereb 69), Myles Beerman. Coach – Silvio Vella.

Referee – Ferenc Karako (Hungary).

Attendance: 723

The Malta Under21 team delivered a strong performance to clinch first point in this UEFA European Championship Qualifying Group 8 following a hard fought 0-0 draw against a strong and physical Northern Ireland side at the Ballymena Showgrounds.

4-1-4-1 formation for Malta with Tarxien’s new loan signing drafted wide on the left for the injured Connor Zammit, the rest it’s the same players who started in the highly creditable goalless draw before summer against Bosnia Herzegovina in a friendly international.

In the first half the Maltese had to sit back at the early stages as they were suffering the Irish relentless pressure but tactically disciplined the boys were gaining confidence to constantly steer away out of trouble.

Second half our players kept their composure, stayed focused and at the end the draw is just what they deserved in a bitterly cold evening in Ballymena.

Northern Ireland started brightly and in 13minutes Shea Gordon lashed into a low cross from the left but his finish went wide off the mark.

Malta responded well and on the half hour mark Sliema’s Kurt Shaw went close as he used his length to outjump the Irish defence but his towering header went just wide off the Celtic keeper’s goal Conor Hazard.

The second half saw Northern Ireland gaining possession from the word go but it was Malta who came close again Floriana forward Jan Busuttil blasted a low powerful shot from 25 yards out, Hazard in goal parade with a rather difficult save.

On the hour mark Malta dangerous again, a good move started by Zachary Brincat ended with Kurt Shaw shooting over from just outside the box.

A minute later Jake Dunwoody for Northern Ireland had an attempt on goal but Malta keeper Vella was in the perfect place to block his shot, seconds later Robert Burns saw his close range header from a corner going just over.

In the 71st minute a David Parkhouse header drifted over the bar for Northern Ireland.

Until the end the Malta players were able to retain possession in a number of occasions and brilliantly managed to slow the tempo of the game down to keep their resilient opponents at bay until the end.

Final Score – a very creditable draw for the boys, Northern Ireland 0-0 Malta.







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