Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland fans forgive Davis but are left furious with Worthington’s tactics

By Jonathan Bradley

The rain-sodden fans departing Windsor Park last night were unable to mask their disappointment and frustration following a home reverse that left a once-promising qualifying campaign precariously poised.

The nature of Serbia’s decisive winning goal did little to ease the mood around the stadium after Olympiakos’ Marko Pantelic was put through on goal after intercepting Steven Davis’ carelessly placed back-pass.

Speaking outside the ground, Ross Newton said: “Davis leaving the ball short took the sting out of game completely and it killed the crowd as well.

“You can always come back from a goal down but sometimes it’s hard when you give one away like that to lift yourselves again.”

Despite the rare error, the Rangers midfielder once again impressed throughout and bore little of the fans’ ire, with the tactics of Nigel Worthington once again being called into question by the Windsor faithful.

In spite of the apparent strength of the Serbian side, some fans were once again angered by the seemingly defensive performance in a Windsor fixture.

Newton added: “It was like a practice match in the first half, defence against attack with us as defence. It’s disappointing to play that way when you’re at home.”

That opinion was reiterated by Bill Thompson who affirmed: “It was a bad goal to give away but people shouldn’t forget that it was a very one-sided match before that.

Having mustered only seven goals during the campaign, and five of those coming against perennial minnows of European football the Faroe Islands, fans voiced their frustrations over the lack of attacking football.

Joe Crainey said: “The team doesn’t attack under Worthington, we’re happy to just sit back and let anyone come on to us.

“You won’t win any home matches at this level playing football like that.”

Davy Proctor was similarly quick to question the team’s tactics and tendency to resort to long cross-field passes.

He stated: “I can’t see them ever scoring a goal, they attack with no fervour at all.”

“Without Lafferty, playing long balls up to short strikers make no sense.

Having gone close in the two previous qualifying campaigns, both players and manager will be desperate produce the necessary performances in the remaining three fixtures that could earn a play-off berth for Euro 2012.

But with Northern Ireland unable to reach a major tournament since 1986, the lengthy drought is clearly a cause of angst among the green and white army.

Robert Gibson concluded: “Where do we go from here? Again, it’s very disappointing and we’ll struggle to qualify.”

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