Bird helps keep Northern Ireland’s hopes alive
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.”