Republic of Ireland 1-1 Iceland
O’Toole 72 Mins
The Republic of Ireland women’s side were held to a dramatic 1-1 draw by Iceland in the Algarve Cup this evening. In what was definitely a game of two halves, Iceland had the upper hand in the opening 45 minutes but the Irish re-grouped after half time and put in a magnificent fighting performance to push their opponents all the way.
Iceland got off to a flying start and applied firm pressure to the Irish defence and after only five minutes, Iceland had the perfect chance to take the lead when a cross was swung in from the right and Icelandic captain, Jonsdottir, got between the two central defenders but her effort just whizzed by the post.
Three minutes later, Irish goalkeeper, Emma Byrne was called into action, a through ball put Vidarsdottir one-on-one with Byrne, and the Arsenal Ladies player stood tall to deny the Icelandic striker, Sharon Boyle was on hand to clear the danger.
Noel King’s side pushed forward as they weathered the early storm and Alisha Moran played a long high ball to Laura Hislop who controlled well but her shot skinned just past the post.
Iceland were ahead with 35 minutes on the clock, a high swerving cross was sent into the Irish box and Logadottirrose rose unchallenged to head the ball past the helpless Emma Byrne.
Ciara Grant almost equalised just before the break, Alisha Moran’s long ball forward was mis-read by the Icelandic defence and Ciara Grant came storming in at the back post but her volley just screwed to the right of the post.
After the break, The Irish were locked in a keen midfield battle with Iceland working of scrappy ball to counterattack as the Irish poured forward.
On 72 minutes, Olivia O’Toole made the game all square with a set-play straight from the training ground. O’Toole lost her marker in the run up to the free kick and ran onto the in-swinging cross to apply a powerful header past the Icelandic keeper.
With Iceland now on the back foot and scrambling to hold on for the draw, the Irish pressed and created numerous scoring chances, the introduction of Elaine O’Connor into midfield added some extra freshness to the attack and she supplied a sublime cross to Stephanie Curtis at the back post only for the Bristol Rovers striker to hit the side netting with a crisp volley.
Emma Byrne was in excellent form in the Irish goal and she was up to the task of keeping Thorsteindoittir at bay when she saved a low and powerful shot from the Charlton Athletic striker in the 80th minute.
Iceland were defending for their life as the game went into the closing stages as they struggled to cope with Ireland’s attacking play, Under 19 starlet, Aine O’Gorman may have thought she had wrapped the game up two minutes into injury time. The ever menacing Stephanie Curtis made a mazy run down the left and her low cross was met by the sliding O’Gorman at the back post but her effort whistled just over the bar.
Noel King said the Republic of Ireland had plenty of chances to put the game beyond their Icelandic counterparts, “I looked for a much improved effort from the girls after half time, at one-nil down, I thought it showed tremendous character to come back into the game.”
“In fact I know that we had the beating of this team, even though they are eleven places above us in FIFA rankings, if we want to develop as a team and, these are the opponents we have to beat and we should have finished the game off,” he added.
King was very impressed with some of the younger players who featured this evening, “I brought on three Under 19 players and they grasped at the opportunity with both hands, Aine (O’Gorman), Diane (Caldwell), and 17 years’ old Noelle Murray were excellent for me, I hope that they learn from this experience and go on to push for a starting place in the European Championship Qualifiers next April.”
Republic of Ireland
Emma Byrne (Arsenal FC)
Sharon Boyle (Raheny United)
Niamh Fahey (Salthill Devon)
Marie Curtin (Hofstra University)
Alisha Moran (New York Athletic Club)
Claire Scanlan (Bristol Academy FC)
Ciara Grant (Arsenal FC)
Laura Hislop (New Hampshire Phantoms)
Denise Thomas (Boston Renegades)
Stephanie Curtis (Bristol Rovers)
Olivia O’Toole (Raheny)
Sarah Peters (Michigan Phoenix)
Yvonne Tracy (Arsenal FC)
Diane Caldwell (Hofstra University) on for Hughes, 82 Mins
Elaine O’Connor (Long Island Lady Riders) on for Thomas, 60 Mins
Susan Byrne (St.Johns College)
Sonya Hughes (New Hampshire Franklin Pierce) on for Claire Scanlon, 60 Mins
Michele O’Brien (Long Island Lady Riders)
Aine O’Gorman (Stella Maris) on for O’Toole, 88 Mins
Noelle Murray (Raheny) on for Hislop, 73