Northern Ireland 1 Wales 1
10 October 2013

Northern Ireland 1 Wales 1

Wales gained a well-deserved point in a thoroughly entertaining game at Ballymena to end their Victory Shield campaign for 2012.

Wales gained a well-deserved point in a thoroughly entertaining game at Ballymena to end their Victory Shield campaign for 2012.

Wales started the game brightly, gaining most of the early possession. Oldham’s Daniel Byrnes went close to opening the scoring after lifting the ball over keeper Long, but his effort went narrowly wide. Byrnes was busy and effective, wasting very little possession and one of his runs led to a free-kick which led to the first goal after 13minutes. A superb delivery by captain Joseff Morrell was met perfectly by James Graham who got across his defender to head the ball home. It looked a perfect training-ground move which must have delighted Wales manager Osian Roberts.

The goal gave Wales further confidence and they continued to get the ball down and make good use of their possession. Five minutes later a strong run by the lively Daniel James led to another opportunity to increase the lead.

In the last ten minutes of the half the Irish gained more possession with most of the threat coming down their right side involving Seanna Foster. Jonathan Smith’s shot was saved by keeper Lewis Thomas and this led to successive corners which might have led to an equaliser.

Another great run by Daniel James caused problems for the Irish defence and despite being brought down in the penalty area, no attempt was made to seek a penalty.

Despite the home side getting back into the game towards the end of the half, Wales thoroughly deserved their lead at the interval.

The Irish started the second half brightly and Wales suffered a big blow after 46 minutes when Daniel Byrnes, who had another impressive game, limped off with an ankle injury. Byrnes was replaced by Swansea City’s Dylan Thomas.

A minute later the impressive Connor Lemonheigh-Evans drew away some Irish defenders to create an opening for Daniel James, whose shot unfortunately hit the post following an impressive run.

In a lively game, the home side started to dominate possession and after 53 minutes Andrew Howe equalised showing grit and determination to find his way through Welsh defenders and squeeze the ball home past keeper Lewis Thomas.

Substitute Ben Doherty came close a few minutes later with a cross which went narrowly past the far post and an opportunity fell to Jonathan Smith which was well saved by Thomas.

Ellis Bellamy replaced the excellent Connor Lemonheigh-Evans after 64 minutes and a number of substitutions were made by the home side late in the game, but they failed to secure the win which would have given them a chance of sharing the Victory Shield with England who play Scotland in the final game of the tournament.