Belfast Telegraph

Paterson learns hard way about life at this level

By Keith Bailie

Northern Ireland striker Martin Paterson had a frustrating night against Israel on Tuesday, neither finding the net nor winning a penalty.

The Burnley man believes he was fouled three times inside the box only for Estonia referee Hannes Kassik to wave away his protests each time.

Paterson (25) said: "I feel we could have had more help from the referee.

"I was knocked over on three occasions and I personally thought they were all penalties.

"I'm a strong little lad and I don't go down easily, but they pushed me over in the box.

"Obviously the referee didn't deem there was enough there to give the penalty and they took their chances. I'm gutted about it, to be honest."

Paterson's first penalty shout arrived in the opening half as he attempted to get onto the end of a smart Steve Davis pass, while he went to ground twice in the second half, once on the edge of the box and once after a collision with Israeli goalkeeper Ariel Harush.

Paterson wasn't the only Northern Ireland player to have a penalty claim turned down.

Manchester United defender Jonny Evans had his shirt pulled at a set-piece, but the match officials failed to react.

The absence of the suspended Kyle Lafferty meant Paterson got a rare chance to start a competitive international, but he was unable to bag that all important goal, with chances few and far between.

Reflecting on his own performance, Paterson said: "I thought I played okay.

"I worked hard and I thought did some good stuff but the real shame was nothing quite dropped for me.

"I had one half chance when Gareth McAuley cut the ball back for me and I made a couple of good opportunities for others, but what I really wanted was a chance to score a goal.

"In international football sometimes you need to make that chance yourself."

With Sion forward Lafferty due back for the next competitive international, likely to be against Russia at Windsor Park at the end of the season, Paterson may find himself once again relegated to the bench, but the English-born forward says that won't alter his commitment to the cause.

"I'll learn from this experience and I'll be back for the next trip, and regardless of whether I start or not, I'll come back strong and I'll be raring to go. I want to score goals for Northern Ireland."

Manager Michael O'Neill, like his predecessor Nigel Worthington, is having to rely on a handful of players who are not automatic starters at club level to change the national side's fortunes.

It is a fact of life for Northern Ireland, but that does not make it any easier for the manager.

"At this minute, look at our left side: young Danny Lafferty and Shane Ferguson," he said. "They're not established at club level and we're asking them to play important international games.

"They're learning on the job and maybe we're asking too much from them at times."

Belfast Telegraph


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