This is the first experience at this level where the boys are given the possibility to raise their standards, keep flourishing in their development, and is also a wonderful opportunity to showcase their talents and make crucial progress as players through UEFA’s international development tournaments.
Northern Irerland went in front in the first half through captain Ruairi McConville, but the resilience of the Malta side reaped rewards with a well taken and deserved equalizer early in the second half when Lucas Caruana poked home to make the score level.
Nonetheless Northern Ireland had other ideas and their strong bench made Malta pay, first it was Mitchell Watersonwho put the Irish back in front, before Chris Cope cemented this advantage with a third goal, after both players entered the fray in the second period of the game.
Malta boys did not give up against this strong Irish side, looked physically in good shape and kept our opponents backline under unrelented pressure, also finding the net again for a consolation goal through Ensell Attard ten minutes from the final whistle.
Notwithstanding this defeat the boys came out with heads high and coach Paul Gatt and his staff are already looking ahead to the next challenge coming up in two days time.
The young Malta boys are back in action tomorrow when they take on Cyprus at Colliers Park in Wrexham with KO time at 1600 hrs Malta time.
Northern Ireland :- Matthew Williamson, Thomas Connolly, Conor Cunningham, Ruairi McConville (capt), Jack Patterson, Zach Cowan, Kenny Ximines, Cormac Austin, Luca Doherty, Jamie Donley, Leon Boyd.
Malta :- Yan Galea, Andrew Apap Bologna, Sven Xerri, Myron Micallef, Kian Leonardi, Matthias Said, Ensell Attard, Timothy Cassar Torregiani, Ivin Farrugia, Jakob Cioffi, Lucas Caruana.
Referee – William Peel
Ass Referees – Ryan Hughes, Iolo Williams
4th official – Rhys Parry.