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Friday 25 Oct 2019
Turkey show ruthless streak against NI U17s in mini tournament opener

Northern Ireland’s Men’s Under-17s were undone by some clinical finishing in the first of their three games in a qualifying round for the 2020 U17 Euros staged in Luxembourg.

Turkey put four past Stephen Frail’s charges without reply at Stade Henri Dunant in Beggen on Thursday evening.

Northern Ireland had seven goal attempts in the 90 minutes compared to their opponents’ 12 efforts but Turkey were simply more ruthless in front of goal.

Charlie Lindsay had the first attempt of the game, however Turkey took the lead as early as the third minute. Emre Demir played in Omer Faruk Beyaz and he swept the ball home.

Turkey almost doubled the lead on 17 minutes. Bartug Elmaz produced a rasping effort but it cannoned off the woodwork.

Ali Suhan Demeril had a shot saved by Northern Ireland keeper Conner Byrne before Charlie Allen tested the Turkish stopper.

It was 2-0 after 34 minutes. Emin Bayram steered an Elmaz free-kick to Selman Faruk Dibek and he applied the finish.

Then Frail’s boys had a couple of chances in quick succession. Walker forced Ahmet Guney into a save before the Turks’ keeper produced a fine stop from a Dale Taylor effort.

Goal number three for Turkey came eight minutes before the interval. Tugbey Akgun played in Beyaz who gleefully grabbed his second of the game.

In injury time Allen had another shot blocked and Northern Ireland looked lively at the start of the second period. But it was Turkey who struck again just before the hour mark to make it 4-0, Demirel slotting the ball into the net after being found by Polat Abay. 

It was scrappy and feisty after that, with few chances created.  Conor Bradley dragged an effort wide before Demirel’s drive was pushed away and Abdullah Sahindere had a shot blocked.

Byrne saved well from Demirel again, while in the closing stages Sean McAllister scooped a shot wide of the upright.

It was a tough opener for Frail’s side in the four-team mini tournament hosted by Luxembourg which is the first step towards qualification for the U17 Euros next summer. 

Matchday two in Group 2 sees Frail’s boys come up against Italy at Stade Municipal in Rumelange on Sunday (7pm start). The Italians defeated Luxembourg 6-0 on Thursday.

Northern Ireland U17s are back at Stade Henri Dunant for their third and final game against Luxembourg next Wednesday (30 October, 7pm kick-off). 

The top two in every qualifying group, and four third-placed sides with the best records against the leading pair, will go through to an elite round next March. 

Eight elite round group winners and seven runners-up with the best records against the teams first and third in their pool will join Estonia in the finals from 21 May to 6 June next year.

Northern Ireland U17s team v Turkey U17s: Conner Byrne, Sean Stewart, Aaron Donnelly, Orrin McLaughlin, Conor Bradley, Cameron Stewart, Dale Taylor, Charlie Allen, Charlie Lindsay, Matthew Walker, Caolan McBride. Substitutes: (used) Sean McAllister, Isaac Price, Lewis Mackinnon, Dane McCullough, Ciaran McGuckin; (not used) Conor Manderson, Ross McCausland, Stephen McGuinness, Jamie McDonnell.

Image: Charlie Lindsay was in the starting line-up against Turkey