Bird helps keep North­ern Ire­land’s hopes alive

Nottingham Post - - SPORT -

NOTTS County de­fender Pierce Bird played the full 90 min­utes for North­ern Ire­land un­der-21s as they se­cured an im­pres­sive 1-0 win in Ice­land on Thurs­day night.

Daniel Bal­lard’s 89th-minute strike was enough to clinch the vic­tory that gives North­ern Ire­land a slim hope of qual­i­fy­ing for next year’s Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship fi­nals.

Bal­lard’s win­ner came when he headed in a cor­ner from Jamie Mcdon­agh which came at the end of a heavy spell of pres­sure in the Group B clash.

Ice­land had their chances in the first half but Bird im­pressed in the heart of the de­fence and could have got on the score­sheet him­self but was de­nied late on.

North­ern Ire­land un­der-21s are man­aged by for­mer Mag­pies mid­fielder Ian Bar­a­clough and his side now face Slo­vakia on Tues­day night.

They are two points ahead of Slo­vakia in the ta­ble but they do have a match in hand.

And Bar­a­clough wants the fans to turn out in force at Wind­sor Park.

“This is what we wanted to do and we have worked to­wards it,” said Bar­a­clough.

“To take it to the fi­nal game is fan­tas­tic. I’ve heard tick­ets have been go­ing well and there is a lot of in­ter­est in the game which is great for the boys.

“It would be bril­liant if there was a good at­mos­phere at Wind­sor Park.”

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