Youngsters' mixed fortunes
English Barclays Premiership
It was mixed fortunes for our youngsters in European Under-21 Championship qualifying action on Tuesday night.
Gary Doherty went close as the Republic of Ireland dominated against Estonia but only had Barry Quinn’s penalty to show for it.
Simon Davies played and goalkeeper James Attwell was on the bench as Wales were agonisingly beaten by a last-minute goal in Poland.
Meanwhile Cairan Toner was in the line-up as Northern Ireland racked up their highest win at this level with a 5-2 triumph in Iceland.
Here are the reports from the matches concerning our players, courtesy of Sky Sports.
Republic Of Ireland 1 Estonia 0
The Republic of Ireland bounced back from their opening Group Two defeat with a deserved victory over Estonia.
Don Givens side were always on top in awful conditions in Kilkenny, but needed a penalty from skipper Barry Quinn to get their qualifying campaign up and running.
The Coventry midfielder had already conjured up a shocking miss after only five minutes, but made no mistake on 57 minutes after former Kilkenny favourite Michael Reddy, now with Sunderland, had been tripped by Taavi Rahn.
Quite how Estonia escaped with a 1-0 defeat, only they will know. After surviving a couple of early scares, the Republic assumed complete control and created a number of gilt-edged chances.
Keeper Pavel Kisseljov denied Jason Gavin from long range and made two smart saves to keep Arsenal’s Graham Barrett off the scoresheet as the home side attacked from all angles.
Tottenham’s Gary Doherty saw a back header saved and the keeper was forced to punch away a fierce drive from Colin Clarke, before Reddy’s run and Quinn’s cool penalty finally shattered the deadlock.
But if the 3,800 Buckley Park crowd were expecting the floodgates to open they were mistaken — Estonia held firm for the remainder of the match, suggesting Mick McCarthy’s full side may find their opponents difficult to break down at Landsdowne Road.
Rep of Ireland U-21:J. Murphy, Healy, Gavin, O'Shea, Clarke (McGrath 80), B. Quinn, J. O'Connor, D. Lynch, Barrett (Partridge 71), Reddy, Doherty (Hunt 90).
Subs Not Used: Miller, Rowlands, D. Delaney, Byrne.
Booked: J. O'Connor.
Goals: B. Quinn 57 pen.
Estonia U-21: Kisseljov, T. Rahn, Parnpuv, Vink, Cash (M. Kahr 56), Zahhoviako (Maasing 69), M. Kosemets, Sahorov, Lindpere, Kirillov, Tikenberg (Jaager 60).
Subs Not Used: K. Kutt.
Booked: M. Kahr.
Ref: Srecko Kandare (Slovenia).
Iceland 2 Northern Ireland 5
Northern Ireland Under-21’s racked up their biggest win at this level with a five-star showing against Iceland.
Wycome Wanderers striker Mo Harkin led the rout with a double either side of the break, while Gary Hamilton, Sean Friars and Grant McCann also found the net in a convincing display in Hafnarfjordur.
The only downside for the Irish was the stoppage-time sending off of Wayne Carlisle for handball, who became the second Irish starlet to see red in as many games following Paul McAreavey’s dismissal against Denmark last time out.
By then, the points were already beyond issue thanks to a blistering opening from Roy Millar’s marvels.
They were 2-0 up inside 11 minutes as Blackburn striker Hamilton headed home after a poor punch from Iceland keeper Omar Johannsson and Ipswich midfielder Friars slotted neatly home from Harkin’s lay-off.
The Wycombe man then took over, flashing a fierce effort across goal before making it 3-0 on 32 minutes as he raced clear of a static Icelandic defence.
His second came on 62 minutes as he stole possession from Pall Almarsson just inside the area and beat Johannsson with the simplest of finishes.
The five-star show was wrapped up on 77 minutes when McCann cracked home a left-foot effort from just inside the area and although late consolations from Thorarinn Kristjansson and Karl Gudjonsson cut the deficit, they were not enough to stop the Irish eyes smiling in Iceland.
Iceland U-21: Johannsson, A. Gunnarsson, Mete (Almarsson 46), B. Gudjonsson, I. Sigurdsson (Kristjansson 80), Leosson, J. Gudjonsson, Danielsson, Baldvinsson (Steinarsson 35), S. Gislason, V. Gunnarsson.
Subs Not Used: Haflidason, Vidarsson, Adalsteinsson.
Booked: S. Gislason, Kristjansson.
Goals: V. Gunnarsson 84, J. Gudjonsson 90.
N Ireland U-21: Miskelly, Convery, Holmes, Whitley (Scates 65), Dolan (R. Graham 80), Friars, Carlisle, Toner, Harkin, Hamilton, G. McCann (Kirk 84).
Subs Not Used: Ingham, Kelly, G. McCartney, Morrow.
Sent Off: Carlisle (90)
Booked: Harkin, Whitley, Carlisle, Convery.
Goals: Hamilton 6, Friars 11, Harkin 32, 62, G. McCann 77.
Ref: R Lajuks (Latvia).
Poland 2 Wales 1
Wales’ hopes of picking up their first Group Five point were sunk by a goal 60 seconds from time Opoczno .
Jimmy Shoulder’s boys battled bravely only to see the home side snatch the spoils at the death when Grzegorz Rasiak’s precise chip just cleared keeper Lee Kendall in the 89th minute.
It was tough on Wales, who had taken the lead through Blackburn’s James Thomas, and according to their manager, produced some fine football — if only in flashes.
Shoulder said: “We had the match won, but we ended up giving it to the Poles. Poland took advantage of the initiative that we handed to them, we played very well for 20 minutes, but that was not long enough.
"On Friday in Swansea we played some of the best football I have seen from a Wales under-21 side for an hour against Norway. We did that again for 20 Minutes here, but that's not enough to win a match."
Thomas had already seen a first-minute effort flash past the post when he gave his side the lead on 15 minutes, finishing well after Norwich’s Chris Llewellyn had prised open the Polish defence with a neat through-ball.
But the scorer and skipper Ryan Green both limped off with hamstring trouble and Wales were suddenly forced to defend.
Their resistance was finally broken on 66 minutes when home skipper Arkadiusz Glowacki headed home a right-wing corner from Ireneusz Kowalski.
And there was more misery for Wales in the final minute when Kendall was unable to keep out Rasiak’s impudent effort, leaving the visitors contemplating yet another defeat in a miserable run of threee years and 17 matches without success at this level.
Poland U-21:Mieciel, Ciesielski (J. Mazurkiewicz 71), Glowacki, Wasilewski, Nowak, Scherfchen, Bartczak (Muszalik 66), Najewski (T. Mazurkiewicz 74), Rasiak, Kowalski, Lawa.
Subs Not Used: Norko, Spizak.
Goals: Glowacki 66, Rasiak 89.
Wales U-21: Kendall, Green (Slater 34), Gabbidon, Weston, Llewellyn, Jenkins, S. Roberts, S. Davies, J. Thomas (K. Evans 44), Earnshaw (Day 70), Maxwell.
Subs Not Used: Attwell, S. Roberts, S. Evans, D. Williams.
Goals: J. Thomas 15.
Ref: Milan Mitrovic (Slovenia)