Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland v Morocco: Why Patterson put O’Connor on the spot - and won

One look from Rory Patterson was enough to tell Michael O’Connor that he wasn’t going to get the opportunity to be Northern Ireland’s penalty hero.

After twice firing free-kicks off target, O’Connor wasn’t in a position to argue — and with hindsight he was right not to anyway.

Patterson wasn’t going to let anyone else get the ball when the Norwegian referee pointed to the spot after Morocco defender Rachid Soulaimani had hauled Josh McQuiod to the ground and the familiar hand diamond celebration that was seen over 40 times around Irish League grounds last season went up again to signal that he’d clinched a 1-1 draw for Nigel Worthington’s side.

“I tried to get on the penalty, but Rory bullied me off it,” revealed O’Connor.

“I went to get the ball and then I saw Rory looking at me.

“I’d taken the two free-kicks so he wanted the penalty.

“He’d wanted the two free-kicks, but I took them — I wasn’t going to get a third chance.

“I’d have liked to have taken it myself and got off the mark for Northern Ireland, but he put it away to get us the draw so I can’t argue.”

For O’Connor it was a first cap since the March friendly in Albania and he’s been frustrated by his absence, especially after an impressive start to the season in the Championship with Scunthorpe.

He doesn’t want to be absent again.

“I’ve six goals so far, I’m the top goalscorer at the club and my form at the minute is as good as it’s been since I signed for Scunthorpe,” said O’Connor.

“I was disappointed not to start. Although I was unwell on Monday I felt fine.

“The lads that started did well — Paddy McCourt played very well.

“I don’t want to be dropped again. I am doing well for my club at the minute, I want to keep that going and we’ll see what happens when the next qualifiers come around, but I want to be in the squad and I hope I’ve shown Nigel that.”

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