Macedonia U21 noted a minimal 1:0 home victory over its counterparts from Northern Ireland in a U21 qualifier played today in Kumanovo.
The match between the U21 national teams of Macedonia and Northern Ireland, which was supposed to be played in February but was postponed due to bad weather, was finally played today. Macedonia U21 barely won against its counterparts from Northern Ireland with defender Yani Urdinov scoring the lone goal in the 83rd minute from a penalty at the Milano Stadium in Kumanovo.
The manager Boban Babunski opted for an offensive minded formation with four attacking players in the starting line up. In the first half, Macedonia was the better opponent with more of the possession but no serious chance was created to threaten the goal of the visitors. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland relied on counter attacks and set pieces but the first half would stay goalless at 0:0.
At the beginning of the second half, Babunski made some tactical changes, including moving Stefan Ristovski to the left side of the pitch. Ristovski then had the best chance to open the scoreline. just a minute into the second half, but his shot went just narrowly wide of the goal. Seven minutes later, referee Davit Kharitonashvili from Georgia pointed to the spot after a visiting defender used his hand inside the area. However, Ilija Nestorovski shot high and wide from the penalty and the result remained 0:0. Nestorovski was substituted soon thereafter with David Babunski coming on to make his debut for the Macedonian U21 national team. David brought added creativity in midfield which was much needed at that point. Striker Marjan Altiparmakovski replaced Samir Fazli with no change to the formation, while Boban Babunski then made a bold move in the 78th minute when Filip Timov, an attacking midfielder, entered the game to substitute right-back Vladica Brdarovski.
Those changes resulted in another penalty for Macedonia. Babunski sent an excellent through ball to attacker Ferhan Hasani who was brought down inside the area by the Northern Ireland keeper Conor Devlin, leading the referee to once again point to the spot for Macedonia. After a short communication between the players as to who will take the penalty, Yani Urdinov stepped up and successfully converted the spot kick for what proved to be the lone goal of the game.
Northern Ireland then pushed forward, looking for an equalizer, but more bad news followed when Newcastle United’s Shane Ferguson was sent off with a red card in the 88th minute. Even with the man down, the visitors still created several good chances near the end of the match but Northern Ireland could not find a goal and Macedonia held on to the slim 1:0 home victory.
Milano Stadium in Kumanovo, 1000 spectators.
Referee: Davit Kharitonashvili (Georgia)
Macedonia: Gachevski, Brdarovski (78′ Timov), Urdinov, Ristevski, Bogdanovikj, Spirovski, Tairi, Ristovski, Fazli (71′ Altiparmakovski), Nestorovski (57′ Babunski), Hasani.
Northern Ireland: Devlin, Hodson, McGivern, Thompson, C. McLaughlin, Clucas, R. McLaughlin (77′ Lavery), Norwood, Grigg, Lund (86′ McClure), Ferguson.
Goalscorer: Yani Urdinov 83′ (pen)
Yellow cards: Urdinov, Spirovski, Ristevski, Brdarovski (M) – McGivern, Clucas, Norwood, Devlin (NI)
Red cards: Ferguson 88′ (NI)