Belfast Telegraph

Late, late drama fails to dampen the spirits of Northern Ireland fans

By Ian Cahoon

There was a tinge of disappointment for the Northern Ireland fans last night as they missed out on celebrating a first friendly victory away from Windsor Park in a decade.

Around 700 members of the Green And White Army travelled to Cardiff for the game and - until the final minute -it looked like they would be treated to a rare victory on the road.

Overall, it was a satisfying night however with Slovenia still to come at a sold out National Stadium on Monday night.

"I thought it was a really encouraging night," Simon Bell said.

"Bar that late penalty I couldn't see where a Wales goal was going to come from. We looked really solid and we look like a side with top class defenders.

"It bodes well for going to the Euros and it shows that teams aren't going to open us up at will."

Scott Armstrong, from Magheralin, added: "It was great to extend the unbeaten run and get our first goal in an away friendly in goodness knows how long.

"Conor Washington looked really sharp up front and he seems like a good option for the squad, whilst Paddy McNair was superb in midfield and the back three was very solid.

"It was disappointing not to see the game out but the positives certainly outweighed the negatives. I can't wait for us to cause an upset in France."

Other than the game itself one of the biggest pieces of news to come out of the Northern Ireland camp was Kyle Lafferty's loan move to Birmingham City.

"He looked pretty rusty, but at least he got minutes under his belt against Wales," Belfast man Ivan Blair said.

"There were a few times when he didn't look as sharp as he needs to be but hopefully this loan move will sort that out.

"It'll let him get a couple of months of football under his belt and will still hopefully go to the Euros nice and fresh as well."

Mark Cosgrove also breathed a sigh of relief that Lafferty is set for regular football ahead of the trip to France.

"As long as he doesn't get a injury then it can only be a good thing," he added.

"The only disappointing thing is that the loan move didn't come sooner. At least he's at a club where he has a chance of playing.

"If he had gone to the Euros without this then I think it would have been a nightmare for him.

"Never mind the match sharpness, his fitness wouldn't have been anywhere near what it should be, especially if we're playing in some of the warmer parts of France.

"Hopefully it'll be a strong end to the season for him now."

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