Ireland U21s held by impressive Norway

Ireland 0 Norway 0: Ireland’s U21s completed 2015 with a stalemate against a powerful Norway side at the Waterford RSC last night.

Ireland U21s held by impressive Norway

Just four days after their European qualifications ambitions took a hit with defeat in Lithuania, manager Noel King handed debuts to League of Ireland duo Kevin O’Connor and Brandon Miele, as well as Birmingham City’s Noe Baba, in this friendly.

Both sides had their chances to win, Conor Wilkinson and Sean Kavanagh coming closest to earning victory for the Irish.

Harry Charsley, making his first start at this level, was Ireland’s bright spark in the first-half.

After firing wide on nine minutes, he had the ball in the net five minutes later only for the effort to be ruled out for offside in a tight call.

Norway, second in their European qualification group behind England, showed their threat on 20 minutes when Eric Grimes spilled Alexander Sorloth’s shot but Iver Fossum smashed the rebound over the bar.

Having survived that scare, the Irish rallied to create the best opening of the first-half.

Fulham winger Kavanagh, who was sent-off in Vilnius last Friday, unleashed a crisp 25-yard shot on the half hour which Per-Kristian Bratveit dived full stretch to tip around the post.

The pressure from the Boys in Green continued straight after the break. From Alan Browne’s inviting cross, Wilkinson rose highest six yards out to connect with a header that Bratveit turned over.

Rosenborg attacker Alexander Sorloth remained Norway’s attacking outlet, nodding a yard wide on 55 minutes as the visitors took a foothold without upping the tempo in the final third.

Ireland are next in action on March 24 when they resume their qualification campaign by hosting group leaders Italy in Waterford.

IRELAND:

E Grimes (Leeds Utd); S Hoare (St Patrick’s Ath), D Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers), L Desmond (St Patrick’s Ath), S Griffin (Reading); A Browne (Preston NE), K O’Connor (Cork City); D Connolly (Ipswich Town), H Charsley (Everton), S Kavanagh (Fulham); C Wilkinson (Barnsley).

Subs:

I Lawlor (Manchester City) for Grimes (46 mins), N Baba (Birmingham City) for O’Connor, B Miele (Shamrock Rovers) for Connolly (83 mins), S Maguire (Dundalk) for Browne (87 mins).

NORWAY:

P Kristian Bratveit; K Haraldseid, J Gronner, T Groggard, I Fossum; A Trondsen, F Aursnes; E Hestad, A Sorloth, U Yttergard-Jenssen; P Strand

Referee: B Markham-Jones (Wales).

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