Ireland 2-1 Slovakia
Ireland have managed to nick a 2-1 win with a late Amber Barrett goal enough to secure all three points in their World Cup qualifying group and they now lead the group by three points with the Netherlands facing Northern Ireland later this evening.
Colin Bell has plenty to work on before they play next Tuesday evening, in the opening half Ireland dominated possession and territory but could not find a way around the Slovak defence. The use of the long ball with the aid of a stiff breeze didn’t pay off as a number of chances went astray and as the first half moved along Ireland were struggling to make the dominance pay, players like Denise O Sullivan, Katie Mc Cabe and Megan Connelly worked tirelessly in midfield to try and spark something while Leanne Kieran worked her socks off to try and open up the Slovak defence but to no avail. The score was 0-0 at the break
Throughout the game , Ireland try to use the long ball tactic while on a number of occasions the two centre halves Diane Caldwell , Louise Quinn tried to play the ball into the centre of the field where Ireland had the upper hand but several times the long ball tactic was used with no desired effect.
In the second half , Ireland kept the ball down and the midfield began to squeeze Slovakia and in turn this made passing out from the back easier , where Karen Duggan and Sophie Perry-Campbell managed to push up field and really help the wide players , Katie Mc Cabe and Denise O Sullivan pushing on at all available opportunities. This particular aspect was very helpful for the opening Irish goal where Leanne Kieran raced onto a through ball from player of the match Karen Duggan where she headed the ball on and fired past the despairing dive of the Slovakia Keeper to make it 1-0.
Less than two minutes later, Slovakia were level thanks to a comical own goal from Marie Hourihan. She miss judged the flight of a cross from the left hand side and it squirmed into the Irish net to level things up at a goal apiece.
Colin Bell acted quickly bringing Amber Barrett in to replace Ruesha Littlejohn in the Irish attack. Less than 10 minutes later this change had the desired effect after another long ball was controlled by Barrett who fired past the Slovak keeper who managed to get a strong hand to the ball but it was not enough to keep it out and Ireland restored there 1 goal advantage. Cue wild celebrations on the pitch and on the home bench. All of the players and staff realised the significance of Amber Barrett’s late intervention. This gave them 3 vital points and top spot in the group until later the evening at the very least.
Looking to Tuesday in Tallaght, Ireland will know they won’t have the majority of the ball and will need to be as cleaver without the ball as they were back in November 2017 and maybe with a bit of luck they may get the same result as on that evening. Roll on Tuesday at 7pm….
Cian Mc Gibney