Ireland 1: 1 Slovakia
UGH. That was the first thing that came to mind after watching this match replayed on espn3. Granted we went away to Slovakia, a team that made it out of the group stages and lost to a World Cup Finalist, and went home with a point in a difficult stadium. But, I feel as though we should have taken all 3 home with us. While we are still tied for second with Slovakia and Armenia and only two points behind Russia, a win would have put us in a better position on the table.
I think it is safe to say that we took control of the first half of the game. While Slovakia did have some chances here and there, they weren’t too threatening aside from their goal, which I’ll get to in a bit. We started out a lot better than against Russia, albeit with some changes to our starting lineup. Trap went with the 4-4-2
-Kilbane, Dunne, St. Ledger, O’Shea-
-McGeady, Green, Fahey, Whelan-
Long started in place of Doyle, who had picked up a knock against Russia, and Whelan started over Lawrence, who was deemed unfit for the game.
The first ten minutes were just the teams feeling each other out, and Ireland trying to send long balls to Long and Keane, but got nothing out of it, just like the game against Russia. When will Trap learn that LONG BALLS DO NOT WORK. Maybe they do in elementary school recess games when you have the fastest kid in school on your team, but certainly not in European qualifying. Both of our wingers McGeady and Whelan didn’t have touches of the ball for those first ten minutes or so, which isn’t helpful to our offense. It’s a much more threatening attack when our midfield passes the ball around on the ground with smart, short passes, rather than trying to launch balls from our back line, hoping for the best.
Slovakian defense was very tough at the start of the match, pushing and shoving Long and Keane around. This however worked in our favor, as in the 16th minute Long got tripped and kicked in the face. The ensuing free kick led to the first goal of the game, thanks to the boot of our central defender Sean St. Ledger! The kick from Fahey on the right side took a bounce off of one of the Slovakian defenders and fell perfectly for St. Ledger to knock it home!!! YAAAY
We continued to apply pressure and get some half chances here and there, as well as controlling the ball for the next 15 minutes. Slovakia got a corner in the 36th minute though, and capitalized on their chance. The corner was flicked on across the box and headed in by one of their defenders, as the Irish defense was guilty of ball watching again just like against Russia. This time it was Whelan’s man who got behind him and knocked it in, typing the score at 1 each.
It only took a few minutes for Ireland to answer back. Oh wait, I mean it should’ve only taken Ireland, in particular KAPTAIN KEANE, a few minutes for Ireland to answer back. In the 41st minute, a beautiful cross was laid for Keane feet in front of the gaping goalmouth, only for him to miss and let a perfectly good opportunity to add to his amazing tally for Ireland. Sadly, it wouldn’t be his only miscue.
Right after that miss, Green had to leave the game with an apparent hamstring injury, so hopefully it isn’t too serious and he’ll be okay soon.
The Irish kept up the pressure in the remaining minutes of the first half, and were rewarded when McGeady was taken down in the box by the Slovakian goalkeeper! None other than Kaptain Keane stepped up, took the penalty… and BAM had it parried away, with the half ending soon after.
The second half went the other way, with Slovakia putting more pressure on us and our defense, and although they had a few decent chances through Weiss and Hamsik, our defense held firm and kept the score at 1-1.
Okay, I know Keane has done and will do great things for the national team as well as his club team(s). I also realize that players, even the most clinical of penalty takers, will miss a few. But, after making a video like this, you don’t ever miss penalties again. Just joking, but I feel that the PK miss is something that I hope won’t, but may come back and bite us in the arse at the end of qualification. An easy opportunity to put the ball in the back of the net, possibly give us the win, and he misses. I am happy that we went into their house and took a point, as the players should be as well, but I hate seeing how we could’ve walked out with all three.
We are still in second and still within striking distance of the top spot in a tough group, so there is still a large chance of us making the Euros. We do however, need to shore up some spots and get more playing time at club level for some players.
I’ll be posting more on this throughout the week, as well as some other topics. So tell a friend to tell a friend to tell another friend to tell an uncle to tell their boss that THE IRISH FOOTY BLOG IS BACK!!
Keane not getting any game time for Spurs is going to harm us ! A penalty and two sitters missed which should have given us all 3 points. Really hope Ireland can push on and qualify, we haven’t been in a major competition since 02!
Posted from Ireland
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