Reid scores on debut in Northern Ireland draw in Romania


Jamie Reid scored just seven minutes into his international debut as Northern Ireland earned an encouraging 1-1 draw away to Romania.

Stevenage striker Reid, getting his first taste of international football aged 29, gave Michael O’Neill’s men a dream start in Bucharest.

Euro 2024-bound Romania hit back when Dennis Man beat goalkeeper Conor Hazard in the 23rd minute, but O’Neill’s side will take confidence from the way they faced up to a side now unbeaten in 12 games as Conor Bradley shone on his return to Northern Ireland duty.

Northern Ireland suffered a miserable Euro 2024 qualifying campaign last year, but this result – a repeat of the 1-1 draw in this stadium during Nations League play in 2020 – comes on the back of an encouraging 2-0 win over Denmark in their final Group H fixture in November. They will head into Tuesday’s friendly against Scotland in Glasgow in a buoyant mood.

O’Neill’s team selection reflected the “rebirth” he had spoken about on Thursday, with experience in short supply in the absence of Jonny Evans.

Reid may have been making his debut more than a decade after featuring for Northern Ireland U21s, but he was still the oldest player in a starting XI with an average age of 23.5.

Northern Ireland striker Jamie Reid celebrates after scoring.
Image:
Northern Ireland striker Jamie Reid celebrates after scoring.

His goal was created by two 20-year-olds, with Bradley bursting down the right before slipping the ball inside for Shea Charles on the edge of the box.

The shot was potentially on for the Southampton man, but Charles saw the run of Reid to his left and squared the ball. Reid, earning his chance after scoring 21 goals in 44 games for Stevenage this season, lifted it over Florin Nita and in off the underside of the crossbar.

Bradley was back in the side for the first time since June following injury, but the intervening period has seen him go from a loan spell at Bolton to a starring role for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and his confidence was obvious as he proved a constant menace linking up with Isaac Price. But, for all the promise going forward, Northern Ireland let themselves down when Romania levelled.

Man was able to slip between Brodie Spencer and Eoin Toal to bring down a raking long ball from deep and then cut back inside to create an angle. His shot was straight at Hazard, starting for the fourth time in five internationals, but it went straight through the goalkeeper’s hands.

Man then cut inside from the right to hit another powerful left-footed shot, but this one was blocked by his own team-mate George Puscas in front of goal.

Romania threatened again in first-half stoppage time as the ball came in to Vasile Mogos inside the box, but this time Spencer nicked the ball away just in time.

Bailey Peacock-Farrell, masked up after breaking his nose playing for Aarhus earlier this month, replaced Hazard at the break and after a quiet start to the second half Conor McMenamin replaced Paddy Lane – making his first appearance in almost two years – just after the hour.

Northern Ireland's Jamie Reid applauds fans at full-time.
Image:
Northern Ireland’s Jamie Reid applauds fans at full-time

Both teams had lost their zip. Reid ran out of legs as he charged at goal in the 70th minute and it was his last act before being replaced by Josh Magennis, while Ali McCann came on for Jordan Thompson.

There were late chances for Northern Ireland, but Paddy McNair’s shot was straight at Nita in the 79th minute before Price’s effort was turned wide for a corner.

At the other end, Ianis Hagi shot straight at Peacock-Farrell from the edge of the area, but the draw was a fair – and promising – result.

What’s next?

Northern Ireland’s next game is a friendly away to Scotland on Tuesday; kick-off 7.45pm.

Romania are next in action in a friendly against Colombia in Madrid on Tuesday; kick-off 7.30pm.



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