Northern Ireland’s Women’s Under-19 team produced a scintillating second half performance to sweep Latvia WU19s aside in the first of their three Euro qualifiers at Seaview over the coming week. Cyprus and Kosovo kicked off the four-team mini tournament at Seaview earlier today, with the Kosovans winning 4-0.
WU19 Euro 2023 Qualifiers - League B Group 3
Northern Ireland WU19s 5-0 Latvia WU19s
Northern Ireland: Neal (62’), Parker (67’), Reilly (73’), McLaughlin (77’), Halliday (79’)
Seaview Stadium, Belfast
Tuesday 4 April 2023
Interim coach Lynne Carroll has a 20-strong panel to choose from as Northern Ireland compete in League B Group 3 in stage two of the qualifiers for the 2022-23 edition of UEFA Women’s U19 Euro.
Seventeen of the players took part in WU19 Euro 2023 League A qualifiers back in the autumn.
The new faces are Lisburn Rangers Ladies pair Cerys Madden and Cara Tumelty along with Linfield Ladies midfielder Sienna Leckey. All three were on the bench for this game.
How it happened
Latvia had the ball in the net after two minutes, however Santa Sanija Vuskane’s effort was ruled out for offside.
Naomi McLaughlin had two decent efforts for Northern Ireland in quick succession. Latvia keeper Alina Sklemenova blocked a low drive from the striker before she curled a shot inches over the top.
Latvia had a couple of efforts blocked before Ella Haughey fed McLaughlin from a free-kick, however her low shot was comfortably gathered by the keeper.
Just after the half-hour mark Sarah Jane McMaster’s long range shot drifted just wide of the target and then Mikayla Wildgoose cleared an effort from Latvia’s Evelina Uspalevica off the line.
On the stroke of half-time McLaughlin’s shot from a free-kick was off target, while Sklemenova kept out a Haughey strike from another free-kick.
Half-time: Northern Ireland WU19s 0-0 Latvia WU19s
Northern Ireland upped the tempo after the break and Wildgoose produced a clever snapshot which was held by the keeper. And Haughey’s shot from distance was comfortably gathered in by Sklemenova.
They got their reward in the 62nd minute when Ellie-Mae Dickson played a corner short to Haughey and she swung in a pinpoint cross for Aimee Neal who powerfully headed the ball into the bottom corner.
Five minutes later Northern Ireland went two up. The hard working Eve Reilly teed up Helen Parker (pictured) who scored a belter, her strike from 25 yards sailing into the top corner.
The girls in green and white then really turned the screw. On 73 minutes Reilly played a one-two with Haughey before curling the ball into the top corner. It was a lovely finish.
Goal number four was not far away and it was another peach. McLaughlin twisted past a couple of markers just outside the area and clipped the ball into the net off the inside of the post.
The fifth goal came from substitute Keri Halliday and it was a great finish, too. She drilled the ball home from an angle into the bottom corner.
Matchday two will see Kosovo take on Latvia at noon on Friday (7 April) at Solitude, while Northern Ireland are set to face Cyprus at Seaview on Friday. And that qualifier is also scheduled to start at noon.
The winners of the group will be promoted to League A for 2023-24 round one.
Full-time: Northern Ireland WU19s 5-0 Latvia WU19s
Northern Ireland: Erin McAllister, Sarah Jane McMaster, Ella Haughey, Aimee Neal, Mikayla Wildgoose, Helen Parker, Ellie-Mae Dickson, Rhyleigh Marks, Eve Reilly, Naomi McLaughlin, Aoibhe O’Neill (captain).
Substitutes: (used) Keri Halliday, Emily Reid, Erin Montgomery, Sienna Leckey, Cara Tumelty; (unused) Rachael Norney (GK), Caoimhe Mulholland, Sarah Tweedie, Cerys Madden.
Latvia: Alina Sklemenova, Tina Zankovska, Marina Telukevica, Tatjana Jakovele, Sofija Garanca (GK), Jekaterina Ovsjankina, Monta Scuka, Anastasija Vaneire, Santa Sanija Vuskane, Amelija Lipsane, Evelina Uspalevica.
Substitutes: Sofija Sidorova (GK), Darta Steinberga, Vlada Kozlova, Emija Saule, Ance Katane, Darja Fiosina, Anna Hropataja, Anete Stepina, Evelina Freidenfelde.