Belfast Telegraph

Jim Magilton's Northern Ireland U21s unable to break their European qualifying duck

Macedonia U21s 2-0 Northern Ireland U21s

By Adam McKendry

Northern Ireland U21s' disappointing 2017 European Championship qualifying campaign continued as they were beaten 2-0 by Macedonia in Skopje.

The game was played in dreadful conditions, with the two teams having to cope with a torrential downpour for the whole match which made life difficult.

In the end it was the hosts, who are now in an excellent position to go on and qualify for the finals in Poland next summer, who had enough to secure the victory.

A Josh Doherty own goal just before half-time gave Macedonia the lead with Kire Markoski slotting home a second with five minutes left to wrap up the three points.

Chances were few and far between for both sides, and it took until the 19th minute for either team to have a shot on goal as Macedonia flashed wide from a great opportunity inside the box.

Cameron Dummigan and Dion Charles were linking well down the wing for Jim Magilton's team, however they were lacking an end product with striker Shayne Lavery firing straight at goalkeeper Igor Aleksovski from close range in the 34th minute.

Lavery was made to pay for his wastefulness when the Macedonians took the lead four minutes later as Doherty headed into his own net following a dangerous ball into the box.

Northern Ireland substitute Gavin Whyte was inches away from equalising midway through the second half only moments after coming on when his effort from a tight angle just went wide of the mark.

Instead it was down to Markoski to guarantee the hosts the win as he made a surging run into the box before finishing past Conor Mitchell into the bottom corner.

Magilton's side will have two more chances to pick up their first win of the campaign, away to Ukraine and at home to France in early October.

Macedonia U212

N Ireland U210

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