Ian Baraclough proud of his players after battling draw

Gavin Whyte heads home the equaliserGavin Whyte heads home the equaliser
Gavin Whyte heads home the equaliser
Ian Baraclough said he was “very proud” of his players as ten-man Northern Ireland dug in to secure a point in their opening Nations League fixture in Romania last night.

The Green and White Army were frustrated for much of the night, falling behind when George Puscas poked Romania in front after 25 minutes, and then losing Josh Magennis to two soft yellow cards before half-time.

But an inspired performance from goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell kept them in the game before substitute Gavin Whyte’s late header earned them a point in the new manager’s first game in charge.

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“We talked about having patience in the second half,” Baraclough told Sky Sports.

“We felt they were always going to try and go for a second and not settle for the 1-0 and that would give us chances.

“We were a bit anxious in the first half we were desperate to do well rather than relaxing in possession, but there was always going to be a rustiness in the game.

“Davo is the only one from the starting eleven who has been playing games.

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“Some haven’t kicked a ball in anger since March, and it was Dan Ballard’s first game in over a year since having major surgery.

“Their running power in the second half was immense and it made me very proud.

“We knew the substitutions were going to be key to bring on fresh legs and make sure we had an impact coming off the bench. All the subs certainly did that.”

As for the dismissal of Magennis, Baraclough said: “I’ve just had a quick look at it and they are challenges which happen all over the park.

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"The guy has gone down a bit easy, but they've both gone up with their arms up

"There's no blame on Josh it's just the referee's interpretation of it.

"It's a harsh one but we have to live with it.

"The lads had to rally around and get through to half time and we reorganised a little bit."


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