Northern Ireland’s second test in the U19 EURO 2019 qualification campaign finished with a 3-1 reverse to Serbia.
The Oval meeting on Saturday has left Northern Ireland hopes of progress hanging by a thread.
The current hosts of a four-team mini-tournament as part of the first stage of qualification for the Armenia finals, Northern Ireland must now defeat Kazakhstan tomorrow to remain in contention.
Kazakhstan go into the Shamrock Park date on Tuesday afternoon - with a 1 o’clock kick-off - aiming to bounce back from a 4-0 loss to Poland in Dungannon. Poland and Northern Ireland had previously shared the spoils in a scoreless draw and the former now tackle Serbia tomorrow in Coleraine, also at 1 o’clock, to settle the title of group winners. The top two sides in the group stand guaranteed to qualify.
Saturday’s loss to Serbia arrived off a strong second half by the visitors.
Cameron Palmer came close to breaking the deadlock before capitalising on a Serbia defensive mistake for the game’s opening goal.
Alfie McCalmont cleared the crossbar around the half-hour mark off a slack Serbia clearance following good work between the former and Sean Graham.
Lewis McCann and Jordan Jenkins also had sights of goal for Northern Ireland.
Serbia left it level off a penalty kick on 51 minutes by Milutin Vidosavljevic before Dimitrije Kamenovic’s header and a Nikola Terzic finish.
NORTHERN IRELAND: Declan Dunne (Portadown, on loan from Cliftonville), Jack O’Mahony (Harland And Wolff Welders, on loan from Glenavon), Sean Graham (Blackpool), Kofi Balmer (captain, Ballymena United), Daniel Finlayson (Rangers), Alfie McCalmont (Leeds United), Cameron Palmer (Rangers), Liam Smyth (Stevenage), Tom Leighton (Watford), Aaron Heap (Oxford United), Lewis McCann (Dunfermline).
Substitutes (used): Jordan Jenkins (Glenavon), Tyrone Lewthwaite (Rotherham United), Ethan Galbraith (Manchester United), Caoimhin McConnell (Cliftonville); Ollie Webber (Crystal Palace), Aaron Donnelly (Cliftonville), Ethan Patterson (Aston Villa), Harry Robinson (Oldham Athletic), Luke Wilson (Portadown).