Belfast Telegraph

Robinson's boys left gutted as Latvia edge it

NI 1 - Latvia 0 - UEFA U17

By Stuart McKinley

A string of missed chances has left Northern Ireland facing a difficult task in order to qualify for the Elite qualifying phase of the European U-17 Championships.

Despite creating a number of opportunities Stephen Robinson failed to find the net as they went down 1-0 to Latvia – who scored from their only on target effort of the game – at Stangmore Park.

David Healy has joined the coaching team for their qualifying mini-tournament and Robinson will be hoping that the country's record goalscorer can have an influence on his young players before what it now a crucial game against Luxembourg at Solitude on Saturday evening.

Andrew Mooney could have given Northern Ireland the lead as early as the second minute when he forced a saved from Latvia goalkeeper Kristaps Zommers.

Stephen Fallon was then denied by Zommers following Jordan Thompson's corner on 14 minutes and Northern Ireland were left to rue those missed opportunities when the deadlock was broken after 28 minutes.

Conor Quigley committed a foul on Ricards Korzans, Devids Dobrecovs delivered the free-kick into the box and Nikita Juhnevics provided the finish.

Adam Salley immediately missed a chance at the other end as Northern Ireland looked for an instant response and Zommers was kept out Ben Kennedy's effort three minutes later.

Northern Ireland couldn't find a finishing touch and Kennedy spurned an excellent opportunity to level 10 minutes after the break.

Fallon then had three attempts in the space of five minutes, with Salley also going close, but neither was able to find the equaliser.

Kennedy missed again 10 minutes from time and the game fizzled out on what was a frustrating night for Northern Ireland.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Long, Foster, Whiteside, Quigley, Ives, Kennedy, Thompson, Lavery, Fallon, Salley, Mooney. Subs: McDonagh, Hall, Mallon, Law, Paul, Smith, Hoey.

LATVIA: Zommers, Sorokins, Dzerins, Gulbis, Berzins, Tumanovs, Grjaznovs, Juhnevics, Dobrecovs, Silings, Korzans. Subs: Rezvovs, Demcuks, Packo, Liholetovs, Vavilovs, Zalaks, Guzlajevs.

Referee: Anatolii Zhabchenko (Ukraine).

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