Reghba steals the show despite Parrott hat-trick as Ireland 19's advance
European under-19 Championship qualifier
Republic of Ireland V Faroe Islands
Report by Kieran Burke - @KieranBTS.
A modest crowd turned out at Longford's City Calling Stadium this afternoon despite torrential weather conditions for the occasion of Republic of Ireland under-19's versus the Faroe Islands in a UEFA under-19 qualifier. Having defeated Bosnia & herzegovina at the same venue on Tuesday afternoon, the hosts took to a fine playing surface, despite the conditions, knowing a win would be enough to secure progress into the elite phase of the competition. It was Ireland who started the brighter, as Tom Mohan's charges set out with the now trademark 4-2-3-1 formation that all Irish underage national teams employ.
Bohemians youngster, Ali Reghba was one of several fresh introductions into the side, as Mohan opted to rotate with Tuesday's upcoming game against the Dutch in mind and it was the "Gypsies" striker who caught the eye at the League of Ireland First Division venue on Saturday afternoon. Heading over early on, Reghba would go even closer on seven minutes when he got on the end of a ball from wide only to see his powerful header saved by the feet of Faroe's 'keeper Bjarti Vitalis Mork.
Two minutes later and Reghba was again involved as the man wearing the number twenty shirt on the day first won a corner for his side before seeing his shot blocked off the back of a goal-mouth scramble inside the opposition penalty area.
The Irish youngsters impressed in the opening quarter of proceedings as Mohan's men played precise possession football while switching the play from side to side in an attempt to make the playing surface as wide as possible. Ireland's patience almost reaped benefits on seventeen-minutes when flying full-back, Jordan Doherty fizzed a low cross straight across the Faroe's six-yard area only for Jonathan Afolabi to somehow fire over.
As the first-half wore on and Irish frustrations began to build, given the number of glorious goal-scoring opportunities spurned early on, the game began to slow down in pace. Meanwhile, the rain was still thundering down and this clearly affecting Ireland underfoot as the difficulty levels in attempting to play a quick passing game continued to rise with every raindrop. As a result, one could be forgiven for thinking it may take an unforced error, as opposed to a moment of brilliance, to spark this game into life and that was indeed almost the case when on thirty-eight-minutes, Faroe's 'keeper Mork found himself caught under a high ball, which almost allowed Reghba in to open his account but once again a determined Faroe's defence hung on to maintain parity.
The "Boys in Green" threw hell for leather at the visitors in the moments leading up to half-time but with the final pass often breaking down it wasn't to be for Tom Mohan's side.
Mohan resisted the temptation to perhaps mix things up during the break as the same eleven emerged for the second period, likewise for the visitors, who were managed by Jogvan Martin Olsen. It was soon quite clear that the second half would largely mirror the first as Ireland continued to huff and puff with no great quality in the final third, while the away side funneled every man behind the ball.
However, just after the hour mark the Faroe Islands stubborn resistance was finally broken and again it was Bohemians Ali Reghba who was instrumental. Latching onto a long ball, Reghba attempted to flick the ball over his markers head and get around the far side of his own touch but in a panicked effort to stop the striker he was hauled to the ground as Georgian referee, Giorgi Kruashvili pointed to the spot. Parrott had converted from the spot during Tuesday's win over the Bosnian’s and he replicated it on the same ground this time around to put Ireland in front at long last!
The star of the under-17 European Championships in the summer, Parrott killed the game after seventy-seven minutes as he got on the end of a through ball before slotting under Mork to double the Irish advantage. Having held out for so long, Faroe angers began to fray as centre-forward Steffan Lokin showed by thumping the Longford dugout as he was withdrawn from the action.
Boyed by the quick fire Parrott double, Ireland went in search of the icing on the cake in the dying minutes and they soon found it as the games star performer, Reghba was again hacked down inside the Faroe Islands penalty area to tee up Parrott for a dream qualification hat-trick. Parrott may grab the headlines given his treble but it is the highly rated "Bohs" youngster who may have alerted onlookers to his potential with a totally dominant display against the now eliminated Faroe Islands.
Ireland will face Holland at the same venue at 1pm next Tuesday to decide who tops the group in a high profile encounter for Tom Mohan's young guns.
Have you heard Series 2-Episode 28 of Between the Stripes LOI podcast hosted by Kieran Burke & Jonathan Brier yet? This weeks podcast was a Goalkeepers special as Shane Supple, Ger Doherty & Ciaran Gallagher all featured as the exclusive guests. Catch the show below using the Audioboom player, or alternatively, search for Between the Stripes LOI podcast on your favorite podcast platform, such as Itunes, SoundCloud, Spotify & many more.