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Northern Ireland U16 beaten in opener

Northern Ireland’s Women’s Under-16 team lost their opening game 4-2 to Belgium in a four-team UEFA WU16 development tournament which is being hosted by the Irish Football Association in Belfast this week.

A 20-strong squad is representing Northern Ireland this week in a UEFA development tournament for Women’s Under-16 teams which features Spain, Belgium, Iceland and Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland panel has been selected by Irish FA Girls’ Elite Youth Academy Manager Danielle McDowell-Tuffey and is being led during the tournament by head coach Julie Nelson and assistant coach Clare Carson. All games in the tournament are being played at Seaview.

Belgium opened the scoring after just six minutes when a cross from the flank was volleyed past Northern Ireland keeper Abbie Smith. Smith smothered the ball well just four minutes later when Belgium threatened once again.

The home side’s first clearcut chance, in the 14th minute, saw a Lucy Kelly strike tipped onto the crossbar, however Northern Ireland scored a minute later. Jessica McGuinness whipped in the resulting corner and Sophie Hutchinson guided the ball home.

Belgium grabbed the lead again thanks to a neat finish on 27 minutes.

Smith then plucked a dangerous cross out of the air as the visitors pushed forward, however the Belgians grabbed their third just before half time.

Just after the restart Northern Ireland pulled a goal back. Kelly scored with an excellent strike. They pushed for an equaliser only for Belgium to restore the two-goal advantage on 56 minutes. After that the game became a little scrappy with neither side creating much in the way of chances.

Smith was called into action again in the 66th minute when she raced off her line to save at the feet of Belgium’s main striker.

Northern Ireland WU16: Abbie Smith, Caitlin Carlisle, Sophie Hutchinson, Ellie McLarnon, Tara Kerr, Sophie Pollock, Natnicha Mills, Jessica McGuinness, Mia Reilly, Maja Stachura, Lucy Kelly. Subs: Lillie Horner, Ava Hurl, Chloe Beckinsale, Charlotte Havern, Caitie McGurnaghan, Anna Walsh, Mia Snoddy; Lily Jeffery.  .


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