THE Republic of Ireland U17 team were unfortunate to suffer a second single goal defeat to Croatia in three days despite a solid display in Zagreb today.
Croatia 2-1 Republic of Ireland
Tom Mohan’s side lost 4-3 when the sides met on Tuesday after battling back from 4-0 down and once again they needed to come from behind after conceding in the fifth minute.
The Irish failed to take the opportunity to clear a defensive throw-in and the home side capitalised to force the ball past goalkeeper Tom McDermott.
Mohan’s troops soon settled down and were unlucky not to level before half-time as Jamie Aherne and Zachary Elbouzedi forced some good saves from the home goalkeeper.
Four minutes into the second half the lively Aherne was taken down in the penalty area and midfielder Jamie Gray stepped up to convert from the spot-kick.
Ireland continued to play at a decent tempo and substitute Trevor Clarke had a chance to grab the winner in the 60th minute but the Croats cleared and after the ball went down the opposite end of the pitch they won a corner-kick and from there forced home the ball after a scramble.
Clarke had another opportunity to level matters but ultimately was forced off injured in the dying minutes in an unusual incident in the home penalty area that somehow saw a free-kick awarded to the home side.
“It was disappointing for the lads not to get something out of the game because they deserved something for their efforts. The incident in the last minute of the game summed things up as Trevor Clarke was taken down in the box and is taken to hospital for an x-ray but the referee gives a free out,” said Mohan.
“Croatia have great attacking players but we limited their chances. I’m just disappointed that once again we conceded two poor goals.
“The positive is that we got a really good look at a lot of players this week against quality opposition and that’s what it was about. We have food for thought now ahead of the qualifiers next month.
“I feel we’ll go into those games in Poland knowing that we’ve had really good preparation.”
Injuries limited the access Mohan had to some players including West Ham’s Anthony Scully who could not shake off a knock in time to play today/
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Tom McDermott, Luke Wade-Slater, JJ Lunney, Robbie McCourt, Darragh Leahy, Brandon Payne, Conor Levingston, Jesse Stafford-Lacey, Zach Elbouzedi, Jamie Gray, Jamie Aherne.
Subs: Shane Hanney for McCourt 41 mins; Conor Ronan for Payne 41; Trevor Clarke for Elbouzedi 41; Darragh Gibbons for Levingston 65.
FIXTURES & RESULTS
Tuesday, February 24
U17 International Friendly
Croatia 4-3 Republic of Ireland, Zagreb
Thursday, February 26
U17 International Friendly
Croatia 2-1 Republic of Ireland, Zagreb