Paterson’s Northern Ireland pick-up
Striker Martin Paterson insists the Northern Ireland players will not have a problem lifting themselves for next month’s final qualifier against the Czech Republic despite the huge disappointment of defeat to Slovakia on Wednesday night.
“Naturally everyone is pretty down following the Slovakian game,” said Paterson, who is still awaiting his first international goal after eleven appearances for his adopted country.
“I think we will be fine in Prague though, we are professionals and at the end of the day and it is our job to pick ourselves up and approach the game in a positive manner.
“Mathematically there is a little bit of hope that we can qualify, but realistically getting a win against the Czechs is more now about finishing as high as we can in the group.”
The 21-year-old Burnley forward admitted the 2-0 defeat was hard to take, especially after the performance and result in Poland that propelled Northern Ireland to the brink of at least runners-up spot in Group Three.
“The result was disappointing for the whole country, the players and the staff,” he added.
“The lads had done so well to get a result over in Poland and to set ourselves up nicely for Wednesday night, but we just didn’t produce the goods and now the chance of going to South Africa next summer is gone.
“When you are in the game it is hard to analyse what went wrong.
“We were trying to penetrate them and create chances and at the start of the second-half we upped the tempo and started pressing and attacking them more.
“Unfortunately though they got a couple of quick breaks and scored from both of them but I still think on the night we were the better team.”
The former Scunthorpe United player also rued the two half-chances that he missed against the Slovaks, stating it was a frustrating night all round for him and strike partner David Healy.
“They played deep and made David and I do all the work; it was what we expected though as they came with a game plan and stuck to it,” he added.
“I had one opportunity where I’ve turned and struck the ball inside the 18-yard area but it went straight at their keeper, there were a couple of other half chances as well but it was just one of those nights when nothing came off for us, it was just so frustrating.”
Every Northern Ireland player felt that frustration, particularly the elder statesmen in the party including 38-year-old Maik Taylor who was the only player to play every minute of the qualifying campaign.
“In football you have to learn from moments like this,” he said. “When the last game is out of the way we can start thinking about the Euros.
“It’s a big, big disappointment coming after the Poland result. We just fell a little short and did not get going.
“Maybe it is the last opportunity for some of the players to make a major tournament but we’ll have to see. We can still take a lot from the campaign but it is a shame the group seems to be finished. We did have a good run.”