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Monday 19 Mar 2018
Goalscoring run continues for Fermanagh striker

Hearts striker Kyle Lafferty scored his 17th goal of the season as the Edinburgh side ended a run of five games without a win following an emphatic 3-0 success over Partick Thistle at Tynecastle at the weekend.

The 30-year-old latched onto a through ball from Steven Naismith to open the scoring for the home side with a fine finish in the 17th minute.  

Fellow international Michael Smith assisted for Hearts third goal just before half-time when his long throw-in was converted from close range by John Souttar.

In League Two, Ben Kennedy, who has been included in Ian Baraclough’s under-21 squad for the forthcoming double-header with Spain and Iceland, fired home his seventh of the campaign shortly after the break to give Stevenage a 2-0 lead at Port Vale.

Unfortunately for Kennedy and the visitors, Vale scored twice to clinch a point a result which ultimately led to the sacking of Stevenage manager Darren Sarll.  

The only other Northern Ireland player to find the net over the weekend was former under-21 international defender Joey Jones who clocked up his first of the season as Woking drew 2-2 at home to Wrexham in the National League.

There was positive news for Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill ahead of Saturday’s friendly international with Korea Republic after Sunderland’s Paddy McNair came on to play the final 14 minutes of the Black Cats 2-0 home defeat to Preston North End.

Central defender Craig Cathcart, who had been sidelined with a knee injury since August, also made a welcome return after being named as a substitute in Watford’s 5-0 demolition at Anfield by a rampant Liverpool outfit.

In the FA Cup, Will Grigg’s run in the competition is over after Wigan Athletic went down 2-0 at home to Southampton who were again without influential skipper Steven Davis who is still recovering from a hamstring complaint. 

Meanwhile back in Scotland winger Niall McGinn was pleased to head off on international duty with a win after Aberdeen ground out a single goal victory over Dundee at Pittodrie to close the gap on second-placed Rangers to just two points. 

McGinn said: “When you go into an international break with a win it’s a lot easier for the players, fans and the manager as well because you obviously go away for a bit of time and don’t have a club game for a while.

“It was a difficult afternoon, but it was one of those ones, that if you come away with a scrappy 1-0 win, you’ll happily take it.

“It’s interesting that South Korea are coming to Belfast,” added McGinn, who had a brief five-month spell with South Korean side Gwangju earlier in the season. “They’re an international team that are always involved in World Cups and you want to be playing against the best. 

“Hopefully if I get the opportunity to play or come on, I’ll enjoy that, but it’s just great to be part of it again and great to be involved with the international set-up and that can help my club football as well.” 

Finally, left-back Ryan McGivern made his debut for Swindon Town as a second-half substitute in the 3-1 win at Cambridge United on Saturday. 

The former Manchester City player, who was a free agent following his release by Northampton Town in January, was snapped up by the League Two side on a short-term deal last week.