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Monday 10 Apr 2023
Supersub Halliday fires Northern Ireland WU19s to group topping win

Keri Halliday grabbed two late goals as Northern Ireland's Women's Under-19 team came from behind to defeat Kosovo at Seaview and finish top of their UEFA European Championship qualifying group.


WU19 Euro 2023 Qualifiers - League B Group 3


Northern Ireland WU19s 3-1 Kosovo WU19s


Northern Ireland: Aimee Neal (57'); Keri Halliday (83' & 90+2')

Kosovo: Gresa Berisha (28')


Seaview Stadium, Belfast


Monday 10 April 2023

Team News

WU19s interim coach Lynne Carroll made a number of changes from the starting XI that lost to Cyprus in the previous game.

Goalkeeper Erin McAllister, defenders Mikayla Wildgoose and Sarah Tweedie plus midfield duo Sienna Leckey and Ellie-Mae Dickson all came in to the side, while Aoibhe O'Neill retained the captaincy.

How it happened

Northern Ireland started with promise, with Eve Reilly creating the first decent effort on goal after seven minutes with a shot from just outside the area, albeit an easy one for keeper Rajmonda Spahiu to deal with.

Lynne Carroll's side then came close with just over a quarter-of-an-hour on the clock after a Sarah Jane McMaster free-kick was almost touched home by Aimee Neal with Reilly's follow-up falling just the wrong side of the upright.

Further opportunities came midway through the first half with Ellie-Mae Dickson forcing Spahiu to get down low to deal with an effort from the left edge of the box while, moments later, a wayward pass by Kosovo's Riga Kallaba saw Spahiu scramble to make a sprawling clearance as Reilly looked poised to pounce.

Reilly was denied once again not long after that when she burst through to get on the end of a Dickson through ball but the Kosovan keeper did well to make a great save.

However, on 28 minutes, the deadlock was broken somewhat against the run of the play after an Elma Kadriu corner from the right was knocked home by Gresa Berisha from just outside the six-yard box.

Northern Ireland almost levelled 10 minutes later, but Sienna Leckey's turn and shot at the near post was well kept out as was Rhyleigh Marks' follow-up.

Half-time: Northern Ireland WU19s 0-1 Kosovo WU19s

Skipper Aoibhe O'Neill might have found the net early in the second half with a header from inside the area after connecting with a free-kick.

Northern Ireland got their deserved equaliser on 57 minutes. Naomi McLaughlin touched a short corner on to Dickson who duly sent the ball over from the right for Neal to meet it and score with a downward header from the edge of the box.

Encouraged by this, Northern Ireland went in search of a second goal and almost grabbed it on 69 minutes only for Spahiu to gather a Leckey effort at the second attempt from a Mikayla Wildgoose through ball.

Then, with seven minutes remaining, the second goal did arrive after a defence splitting O'Neill ball saw substitute Keri Halliday run through to beat Spahiu with a composed right foot finish.

Kosovo might have snatched a late equaliser when Floriana Haxihu sent an 89th minute dipping effort on to the crossbar from distance.

However, two minutes into stoppage time, the game was put to bed when Halliday knocked home her second of the afternoon to secure the win for Northern Ireland with a stunning finish from the right edge of the area after Helen Parker had laid the ball off.

The result meant Northern Ireland, who won two and lost one in B3, topped the group with a superior goal difference to Kosovo, who also won two matches in the four-team tournament. Cyprus, who defeated Northern Ireland on matchday two, could have topped the group had they defeated Latvia this afternoon, however they lost 1-0 at Solitude.

Northern Ireland are now promoted to League A for stage one of the WU19 Euro 2024 qualifiers.

Full-time: Northern Ireland WU19s 3-1 Kosovo WU19s


Northern Ireland: Erin McAllister, Sarah Jane McMaster, Aimee Neal, Mikayla Wildgoose, Sarah Tweedie, Naomi McLaughlin (Keri Halliday 63'), Rhyleigh Marks, Aoibhe O'Neill, Sienna Leckey, Eve Reilly (Helen Parker 63'), Ellie-Mae Dickson. Subs not used: Rachael Norney, Ella Haughey, Caoimhe Mulholland, Cerys Madden, Cara Tumelty, Erin Montgomery, Emily Reid.

Kosovo: Rajmonda Spahiu, Gresa Berisha, Elsa Raci, Melisa Berisha, Bardha Gjonbalaj, Elma Kadriu, Lorita Islami, Vanesa Nushi (Esma Bytyqi 81'), Floriana Haxhiu, Riga Kallaba (Erlete Shabiu 63'). Subs not used: Djellza Mehmeti, Eljesa Brajshori, Eriola Delija, Aulona Xhema, Dea Stublla.