Sat. May 25th, 2024

Ten-player Northern Eire returned to the all-too-familiar feeling of defeat as Adam Cerin’s early free-kick put Group H leaders Slovenia on the verge of qualifying for Euro 2024 with a scrappy 1-0 win at Windsor Park.

Saturday’s 3-0 victory over minnows San Marino ended Northern Eire’s five-game shedding streak nevertheless it proved solely a brief reprieve in an injury-ravaged qualifying marketing campaign which has now seen Michael O’Neill’s aspect endure 5 1-0 defeats in eight video games.

The defining second of the match got here early on. Whereas there was little doubt in regards to the high quality of Adam Cerin’s fifth-minute free-kick, Northern Eire have been fuming at referee Istvan Kovacs’ determination to award it after Jamal Lewis barely clipped Benjamin Sesko on the sting of the field.

“I feel there may be all the time frustration whenever you lose the sport – and a little bit little bit of disappointment as properly,” O’Neill mentioned.

“I feel the gamers deserved extra out of it than what they received. We’ve got had a irritating marketing campaign, a really difficult marketing campaign and tonight’s sport was most likely a mirrored image of that after once more.”

Picture:
Adam Cerin celebrates scoring the winner for Slovenia

Shea Charles was booked for dissent and that proved pricey simply earlier than the hour mark when the Southampton midfielder went in late on Andraz Sporar and was despatched off, the primary blemish on the 19-year-old’s spectacular begin in worldwide soccer.

Charles has began each sport of this marketing campaign however will now miss November’s journey to Finland, one other headache for O’Neill, who was pressured into additional modifications right here with Dan Ballard out with a thigh drawback and Paddy McNair suspended following his late yellow card on Saturday.

The supervisor responded with daring selections, handing debuts to Bolton defender Eoin Toal and Kilmarnock midfielder Brad Lyons, the thirtieth and thirty first gamers for use in eight qualifiers to this point, regardless of extra skilled choices on the bench.

The ambiance inside a below-capacity Windsor Park was already flat initially with nevertheless it fell silent after Cerin’s objective, the followers not even having the vitality to renew the anti-Casement Park chanting heard earlier than kick-off. Because the evening wore on, a way of injustice would rouse the followers.

Northern Eire responded shortly when Slovenia scored early in Ljubljana final month, a 4-2 defeat, however struggled to threaten right here. Paul Smyth, the star of the present on Saturday, discovered little pleasure on the appropriate. On the left Lewis had extra pleasure to find house however lacked the standard of cross required.

Though restricted going ahead, Northern Eire have been a minimum of making certain Slovenia’s highly effective strike power had few sights of Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s objective.

After one uncommon assault, Slovenia appeared to have been gifted a second simply after the half hour. Trai Hume’s poor headed clearance went straight to Jan Mlakar and Toal received all of it improper attempting to chop out his low cross, permitting Sesko to thump residence from shut vary.

Nonetheless, the guests’ celebrations have been lower quick after the referee checked the replay, deeming Sporar to be interfering from an offside place.

O’Neill despatched on Washington for Josh Magennis on the break and was planning additional modifications a little bit over 10 minutes in earlier than Charles noticed pink, forcing a rethink.

Conor McMenamin, amongst the objectives on Saturday, had been on account of come on however as an alternative it was George Saville, Dion Charles and Isaac Value who entered the fray in a triple change.

The substitutes mixed for Northern Eire’s finest transfer within the 69th minute as Value drove down the appropriate, exchanged passes with Washington after which pulled the ball again for Saville however the midfielder, but to attain for Northern Eire after 49 appearances, didn’t get sufficient energy on his shot.

There was a let-off within the 72nd minute when Mlakar discovered house in entrance of objective however received the contact on his shot all improper, whereas on the different finish Dion Charles blazed harmlessly huge.

Northern Eire nonetheless pushed ahead however one other flowing transfer ended with Saville capturing straight at Oblak and different assaults have been thwarted by the over-officious Kovacs.

Captain Jonny Evans, who had remedy on an ankle damage within the first half, ended the sport limping closely after one other robust influence when difficult for a nook.

O’Neill: Charles should study from dismissal

Northern Eire boss Michael O’Neill:

“This can be a studying curve for younger gamers,” he mentioned. “(Slovenia) are a way more skilled worldwide crew than we’re. You may see that in the best way they managed the scenario and performed the referee a little bit bit.

“The emotion within the stadium clearly transferred to the gamers a little bit bit, everybody will get a bit pissed off with among the choices…When you’re booked for dissent, that is poor. You place your self beneath stress so now we have to study from that.

“We have most likely seen a little bit mixture of inexperience in a lot of gamers and in addition simply the character of the emotion within the sport whenever you’re chasing the sport in opposition to a crew which are a little bit bit extra skilled and that may spill over a little bit bit.

“However I feel that on the evening we have been fairly dissatisfied with the efficiency of the referee.”

Captain Jonny Evans ended the evening limping closely after taking a late blow to his foot, having already been down within the first half to obtain remedy.

“He is clearly hobbling a little bit bit in there,” O’Neill mentioned of the Manchester United defender. “I feel the identical foot was stamped on 3 times so he is limping fairly badly however I feel he’ll be superb.

“It is going to be a type of the place when he wakes up within the morning he’ll be fairly sore however there isn’t any actual injury so far as I do know.”

What’s subsequent?

Northern Eire return to motion in November with two Euro 2024 qualifiers as they go to Finland on November 17 adopted by a house sport in opposition to Denmark on November 20.

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