Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland v Morocco: Promising youngsters pass tough test

Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington felt his inexperienced team passed a big test against Morocco last night.

Worthington's side claimed a 1-1 draw at wet and windy Windsor Park after Rory Patterson struck a late penalty.

Worthington had been forced to make eight changes for the friendly after being hit by a host of withdrawals since naming his initial squad.

Only four of the starting line-up had made more than 10 international appearances and three new caps were handed out over the course of the 90 minutes.

Worthington said: “To step up to senior international football is a big step.

“The overall attitude and mind, staying in control of the performance, not being too nervous, was very pleasing.

“They have been challenged and they have come through the challenge.

“Some people question these situations but, from my point of view, they are always worthwhile.

“You learn about people when you are working with them.

“Morocco had a lot of the ball but we kept our shape, the young ones took the information from the last couple of days on board.

“At the end of the day we have not been beaten in the game, which is a huge plus. Some of the young ones have come through with good steady performances.”

The hosts had been heading for defeat against the technically proficient visitors after Arsenal's Marouane Chamakh pounced on hesitancy by substitute goalkeeper Alan Blayney to charge down a clearance and score.

The Linfield keeper had been on the field just 10 minutes when he committed his gaffe but he partially redeemed himself by tipping a ferocious Adil Hermach drive onto the bar.

Northern Ireland drew level after substitute Josh McQuoid was wrestled to the ground at a corner and Plymouth forward Patterson kept a cool head from the spot.

Worthington said: “I was disappointed for Alan but we have come out of the game unbeaten.

“He's fine and I have given him every encouragement.

“It is one of those you learn from. You cannot take a split second to delay.

“He has been terrific all the way through and these things happen.

“We didn't panic. To take something away is a huge plus.”

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