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International Match Report: San Marino vs Northern Ireland


gawa_ram
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Just home tonight after three days in Italy/San Marino.

Comfortable 3-0 win for the Ulstermen cheered on by a 2,000 strong Green and White Army.

Starting XI:

Taylor: Not much to do, saved and held on to the two shots he had to deal with. 7

McAuley: Linked up with Johnson well down the right and his goal eased any potential nerves and meant San Marino had to come out and attack so were open to conceding more. 7

Craigan: Solid and dependable as always - take away Healy from the last qualifying campaign and he was our best player. 7

Hughes: As Craigan - did everything asked of him. 7

McCartney: As with the rest of the back four another solid performance but picked up a needless booking by trawling up their c*nt of a midfielder in the second half and will now miss the Poland match. 7

Johnson: Good performance in for the AWOL Gillespie - Keith might struggle to get back on the right hand side if he can't find a club soon. 8

Davis: Unusually quiet performance from Stevie D - tidy passing as usual though. 7

McCann: Another good performance from Grant Zidane - always a danger from set players and took his goal very well with his weaker right foot. MOTM 8.5

Lafferty: Really struggling at Rangers on the left wing...so Worthlessington starts him on the left instead of Brunt who's playing well for West Brom. Direct running caused San Marino problems in first half but fitness told and was replaced in the second. 6

Healy: Another hard night for God. A few half chances but him and Patterson are too similar to play up front together. 6

Patterson: Same as usual from Patterson - lots of running, effort and closing down but no end product as yet. Needs a goal to kick start his NI career. 6

Subs:

Brunt: Lucky goal from a wicked free kick delivery but not much else.

Feeney: Like Brunt not much time to shine.

McCourt: Was impressed with him - looks a bit of a playboy, scruffy hair and a few tricks. Will be a fans favourite if he can get some game time at Celtic and force his way into Worthlessington's plans.

Tactics:

This was Worthlessington's chance to give Patterson a go up front with a big man in Lafferty but stuck with Healy who's too similar to Patterson to make a worthwhile partnership.

Fans:

Exceptional as always - sung whole game and started a few new chants:

"He tackles and he passes, he harries and harrasses, he gets up people's asses, he's better than Zidane. Grant McCann *clap clap* Grant McCann *clap clap*" (to tune of Adams Family)

"La-la la-la la-la la-la la-la la-la. La-la la-la la-la la-la la-la la-la. David Healy, David Healy, DAVID HEALY - ULSTER'S NUMBER 9" (That Liverpool one for Torres)

Chant of the night though was when we were singing "San Marin-o" when 3-0 up which then changed to "Dan Marin-o" of NFL/Ace Ventura fame.

Location:

Stayed in Rimini and bussed it up to San Marino for the match. As I'm sure you'd expect San Marino is a pretty quiet place, as is Rimini. Two good nights were had in the Rose and Crown and then in the Bounty - wouldn't go back though or particularly reccomend it!

Outlook:

Still not great - ok we're 2nd but we've played San Marino twice and they're our only wins plus a useful home point to Czech Republic. Still to face them and Poland away and I just can't see us doing it - need to have a 100% record against a beatable Slovakia team, a good Slovenia team and a good Poland team - it's a big ask.

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Thanks pal - I'm also an extremely skint fan!

Worth it though - I've seen countries I'd never dream of going to thanks to following Norn Iron.

Liechtenstein, Iceland, Latvia, Sweden, Slovenia and now San Marino.

Will most likely hit Poland in September and Czech Republic in October for the final group game - let's hope we've something to play for.

Fans are a credit to the whole country - no booing during the oppositions national anthems, no booing of the team and if we're getting beat the last ten minutes is just a constant "Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland - we'll support you ever more".

No wonder we've won UEFA's award for the best fan's two years in a row!

If you want an experience of following a country that plays for the shirt and fans, if England's superstars and primma donna's have put you off - give Our Wee Country a go, you won't regret it.

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