NORTHERN Ireland Under-19s have one last shot at European qualification after losing 2-0 to Greece on Friday night.
Stephen Robinson’s teenagers struggled after going down to 10 men against the Greeks at Stangmore Park.
Diamantis Chouchoumis and Nikos Ioannidis both finished superbly to give the visitors something to celebrate; but if they can carry their stellar form through when they play Czech Republic on Monday, they could still do Northern Ireland a favour.
Meanwhile the lads must defeat Moldova at Shamrock Park to go through, while also reliant upon a Greek win.
“We still have to win the last game but it’s not in our hands and the last thing we want to do is lose our game and see the Greeks win theirs,” Robinson said.
“We are not going to change anything in terms of our preparation.
”It is very frustrating. I thought their decision-making was very, very poor on the ball for about 30 minutes which was terrible as for about 50 or 60 minutes they were the stronger team.
“They went a lot longer on the ball – to be honest I didn’t recognise half of them.
“They hadn’t shown for about 35 or 40 minutes, just what a talented bunch of lads they are.”
Northern Ireland will be without Luke Conlan, who was issued with a straight red card on 52 minutes for obstructing Kyriakos Andreopoulos in the box, and suspended captain David Morgan, who has impressed throughout.
Ryan McLaughlin’s night ended prematurely and painfully, when he collided with a Greek midfielder and required immediate medical attention.
Replaced by Aaron McEneff, McLaughlin was bleeding and even appeared to have lost his balance on occasion, slumping into the arms of the team doctor as he was assisted off the pitch.
“Liverpool have been excellent with us and I don’t see them calling him back before Monday, the academy manager and Brendan (Rodgers) obviously have been brilliant,” Robinson added.
“It’s a minor, minor nick on his head but we just needed to see to it straight away.”