Late goals end U-21s barren run in style
Ireland U-21 2 - Slovenia U-21 0
Published 03/09/2016 | 02:30
They've had to wait 11 months to win so Ireland's U-21s didn't mind that it took until the late stages for goals by Harry Charsley and substitute Sean Maguire to beat 10-man Slovenia last night.
With three minutes left at the Waterford RSC, Everton winger Charsley stroked Noel King's side ahead before Maguire added a second with a penalty he won with his first touch after coming on. Victory means Ireland can technically still clinch second spot in their UEFA Championship qualification group and a potential play-off into next year's Euros.
They need to win their final pair of qualifiers against Serbia, starting with Tuesday's first fixture in Novi Sad, and hope Serbia defeat Slovenia. After four straight defeats in the group, this was a long time in coming.
Two debutants, Courtney Duffus and Olamide Shodipo, started in attack and the duo both conjured chances during a scrappy first-half.
Everton's Duffus was unable to generate the required power on a shot after cutting in from the left on the half hour, allowing Grega Sorcan to save easily.
Shodipo, who has broken into the QPR first-team this season, was guilty of spurning the best opening of the half after Eoghan O'Connell's chip to the back caught the Slovenians off-guard.
Left in plenty of space, the teen had too much time as well as he could only loop his volley over the crossbar from eight yards.
Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane, both in attendance, couldn't have been anything but impressed with the newcomer. On the hour mark, the Dubliner raced down the left and delivered a pinpoint cross to the far post where Charsley headed wide.
Charsley almost embarrassed Sorcan in the visitors' goal five minutes later by unleashing a 40-yard lob as the keeper scampered back towards his line.
Staunch defending by the Slovenians meant stalemate looked likely until Josh Cullen's headed Jack Byrne's cross into the path of Charsley who tucked a low shot in from an acute angle.
Maguire was then hauled down by Denis Sme, who received his second yellow. Up stepped the Cork City player to send Sorcan the wrong way and give the Waterford crowd he served previously with distinction something to cheer about.
Ireland - D Rogers (Falkirk); E O'Connell (Celtic), T Hoban (Blackburn Rovers), G Rea (Luton Town), K O'Connor (Cork City); A Browne (Preston NE), J Cullen (Bradford City); H Charsley (Everton), J Byrne (Blackburn Rovers), O Shodipo (QPR); C Duffus (Everton). Subs: S Maguire (Cork City) for Duffus (89 mins), C Dimaio (Chesterfield) for Browne (90 mins).
Slovenia - G Sorcan; L Stulac (J Balkovec 7), T Kavcic, D Sme, L Krajnc; K Bajric, A Pihler; A Krefl, D Hotic (A Ozbolt 70), D Crnigoj; G Bajde (Stankovic 80)
Ref - T Arnason (ISL)