Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football

O'Neill stands by costly Carroll

Michael O'Neill was left to bemoan another moment of misfortune after Roy Carroll's error condemned Northern Ireland to a 1-0 friendly defeat in Turkey.

O'Neill's tenure has been marked by a number of unlikely incidents - including own-goals, deflected winners and soft penalties - that have contributed to a troubling record of one victory in 15 matches as manager.

Carroll added to that list in first-half injury-time in Adana, calling to claim to a Bilal Kisa chip only to leave himself stranded as Mevlut Erdinc poked home the only goal of the game.

At the time Chris Baird also appeared culpable in the moment of madness, but O'Neill confirmed that the Reading defender was acting on Carroll's orders.

"Roy held his hands up. He knows himself he made the wrong decision and he's disappointed in that," said O'Neill.

"Roy called for the ball and Chris left it for him. The centre forward just continued his run and got a toe to it.

"Chris did the right thing in thinking Roy was coming to take it but that wasn't the case.

"This team has suffered quite a few injustices in terms of not getting what they deserve from games and this was probably another example of that.

"We've have come out on the wrong end of a sequence of bad decisions, bad goals, deflections.

"We've had a lot of things to deal with and we've not had anything that I can think that has really gone for us in any game."

Picking the ball out of the net was Carroll's last contribution to the match and he made way for St Johnstone's Alan Mannus in a pre-planned half-time change.

The timing was terrible but O'Neill does not believe Carroll was guilty of considering his day's work done.

"It's basically the last kick of the half. Roy knew he was coming off at half-time but I don't think he was thinking about having a shower at that moment.

"He thought it was his ball. People make decision and Roy made a bad one."

O'Neill has had to seek positive signs from negative results too often for comfort since taking over as national manager two years ago.

But the resilience shown by a much-depleted squad against a talented Turkey side enjoying life under Fatih Terim's guidance for the third time made that job a little easier on this occasion.

A back three of Baird, Jonny Evans and Aaron Hughes used all of their top-flight experience to repel the hosts time and time again either side of the winner, while Oliver Norwood put in another mature show in midfield.

"How we played after the goal is testament to the spirit of the team," said O'Neill.

"We defended well and I thought we passed the ball well.

"They kept playing in the second half and there were some excellent performances - Norwood and Baird were both outstanding, I thought.

"We were missing four or five probably starters here so it's encouraging that we only lost due to one error.

"This will be a tough place to come for much bigger countries than us.

"You saw a team that was very well prepared and everyone knew their job.

"That's testament to the players and to the work we do with them."


From Belfast Telegraph