Northern Ireland Women suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat to Scotland Women at Seaview this evening.
A second half penalty from Scotland substitute Caroline Weir was enough to give Stuart McLaren’s team the victory.
The visitors started brightly and the home defence had to be on their toes to keep their attackers at bay.
However, Northern Ireland midfielder Chloe McCarron had the first clearcut chance of the game in the ninth minute, curling a free-kick just over the top.
The free-kick was given when Nadene Caldwell was barged off the ball. The offence looked to have been committed just inside the penalty area but the referee, Cheryl Foster, decided it occurred just outside the area.
Northern Ireland pushed down the left flank in particular, with Rebecca Holloway, Caldwell and Kirsty McGuinness linking well at times, but the Scottish defenders snuffed out any threat.
On the half-hour mark Holloway fired in a dangerous cross which was cleared for a corner.
McGuinness strode forward on a couple of occasions but miscued her final pass.
The home side stroked the ball around well, however they lacked penetration in the final third.
Just before the break Sarah McFadden set McGuinness free in space down the left but her cross-cum-shot was easily gathered by Scotland keeper Lee Alexander.
Moments later Scotland striker Claire Emslie wriggled free from her marker and her snapshot from the edge of the area clipped the top of the bar.
And then Scotland full-back Rachel McLauchlan fired a long range effort over the top.
Just after the restart McFadden made another burst forward for Northern Ireland and slipped the ball to Lauren Wade, however the Scotland defence cleared the danger.
McGuinness and Holloway linked well down the left once more but the Scottish defence stood firm and moments later Northern Ireland captain Marissa Callaghan fired in a low, hard cross which was held by Alexander.
Scotland midfielder Lisa Robertson blasted in a shot from 30 yards which was pushed out by Northern Ireland keeper Jackie Burns and Scotland forward Kirsty Hanson just failed to connect with the loose ball.
The lively Fiona Brown, who came on as a sub for the Scots at the start of the second half, produced a decent effort which was grabbed by Burns.
In the 78th minute Scotland midfielder Christie Murray burst into the box and was fouled by Toni-Leigh Finnegan. The ref immediately pointed to the spot. And Weir stepped up to coolly stroke the ball into the bottom corner to make it 1-0.
Northern Ireland sub Samantha Kelly burst forward at pace. Her rising effort was comfortably held by Alexander, while down the other end Brown’s drive flew over the bar.
A lovely piece of skill from sub Kerry Beattie, making her senior debut, took her clear of her marker and her cross almost reached fellow sub Emily Wilson as she closed in on goal.
Moments later Beattie fired in another cross which was collected by the Scottish keeper.
Both Weir and Brown had further efforts for Scotland, but they had done enough to secure the win in the FIFA Women’s A international friendly, which was played in front of around 400 spectators.
Northern Ireland Women: Jackie Burns, Rebecca McKenna, Rebecca Holloway, Sarah McFadden, Julie Nelson, Laura Rafferty, Nadene Caldwell, Chloe McCarron, Marissa Callaghan (captain), Lauren Wade, Kirsty McGuinness. Substitutes: (used) Toni-Leigh Finnegan, Louise McDaniel, Samantha Kelly, Emily Wilson, Kerry Beattie, Ciara Watling; (unused) Becky Flaherty (GK), Ella Haughey, Casey Howe, Joely Andrews, Fi Morgan.
Scotland Women: Lee Alexander, Rachel McLauchlan, Brianna Westrup, Lisa Robertson, Chloe Arthur, Sophie Howard, Christie Murray, Nicola Docherty, Claire Emslie, Lana Clelland, Kirsty Hanson. Substitutes: Eartha Cummings (GK), Jenna Fife (GK), Kirsty Smith, Rachel Corsie, Fiona Brown, Kim Little, Caroline Weir, Lucy Graham, Christy Grimshaw, Leah Eddie, Erin Cuthbert, Lizzie Arnot