Northern Ireland’s Women’s Under-19s drew with Wales WU19s in the first of two friendlies in Wrexham this week.
Arguably Alfie Wylie’s side could and should have won the match staged at Colliers Park yesterday afternoon, however the WU19s manager was pleased with the overall performance as a double from Cora Chambers helped to secure a 2-2 draw.
“There was lots of good play from us. However, we should have got the win given the amount of possession we had and the number of chances we created,” said Wylie afterwards.
Northern Ireland started brightly and quickly put the home defence under pressure with a series of strong forward runs.
Striker Chambers, who was the player of the match, almost opened the scoring for Wylie’s side on 10 minutes. She sped past her markers and was one on one with the keeper, however the stopper managed to smother her effort.
Abbie McHenry fired over the top soon after before Northern Ireland keeper Rachael Norney produced a good save down the other end.
The first goal came after 32 minutes against the run of play. Fi Morgan was dispossessed and the Welsh swept the ball home.
Northern Ireland got back on level terms just six minutes later. Ella Haughey produced a defence-splitting pass to Chambers and she scooped the ball past the keeper.
On 48 minutes Norney produced another fine save, however just a minute later she was picking the ball out of the net. Tierna Bell fouled a Welsh player inside the area and the hosts scored from the spot.
It did not take Northern Ireland long to respond though. Four minutes later, after an initial free-kick was blocked, a second delivery found Chambers and she duly headed the ball home.
The WU19s continued to push forward, and created other half-chances, however they had to be thankful to Norney right at the death when she produced another good stop to keep the Welsh out.
This week’s friendlies are part of preparations for Women’s U19 Euros 2022 qualifiers for both countries, who will play each other again in Wrexham on Saturday.
At the end of next month Northern Ireland will be competing in Group A5 of the qualifiers and will face Switzerland, England and the Republic of Ireland in a mini tournament in Limerick.