Belfast Telegraph

Steven Davis left feeling flat after dull draw

By Rory Dollard

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis claimed that the only positive from the drab scoreless draw in Cyprus on Wednesday was the fact that the team didn't lose the game.

The performance in Nicosia was as dull as the atmosphere in the GSP Stadium, as Michael O'Neill's men continued their dismal run of away friendly results – it is almost eight years since the last goal and victory.

The attendance at the 23,000 seater arena was less than 1,000, despite the Cypriot FA throwing the turnstiles open and allowing free entry to the game.

In fact, it was debatable whether the attendance when Northern Ireland met Serbia in a European Championship qualifier three years ago was higher – and that match had been ordered to be played behind closed doors with no Serbia fans allowed in... just security personnel and Northern Ireland supporters!

Davis, however, didn't want to use that to defend the uninspired showing.

"The lack of atmosphere wasn't ideal, but if you go looking for excuses you're going to find them," sad Davis.

"The performance in the first half was very flat and it felt like we never got going. It wasn't good from us and it's one we're disappointed in because we were a yard off the pace.

"You wouldn't say there were really any positives to take, but in the second half we had a bit of spirit about us and we dug in when we went down to 10 men."

O'Neill now has two games in South America against World Cup-bound Uruguay and Chile, in which to get things right ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, which begins in September.

"It's better a performance like that happens now than when the qualifiers start up again, but there's a lot of work to do and we need to do better," said Davis.

e STEPHEN Craigan led his Northern Ireland under-19 team to a 2-2 draw in their friendly against Switzerland at Stangmore Park yesterday.

Levi Ives and Josh Doherty scored second-half goals – Doherty from the penalty spot – after the Swiss had led 2-0.

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