A determined Northern Ireland suffered a narrow 4-2 loss to the Netherlands in the final match of the UEFA Women’s Futsal Euro qualifiers in Newry, reports irishfa.com.
Keith Gibson’s side were behind after just one minute through Jessie Prijs and the Dutch added to their lead 6 minutes later through a Milenca Van Ee goal following a misplaced pass.
Northern Ireland were back in the game after 11 minutes as Nadene Caldwell pulled one back for her side following a cleverly worked corner. Heather Mearns played the ball to the feet of Beth McKay in the area who flicked the ball into the path of the skipper, who finished low past the keeper.
The hosts were unlucky not to be level on half time as a low near-post effort from Louise McFrederick was denied by the frame of the goal.
The second half started brightly with chances at either end. McFrederick and Olivia Brown looked dangerous in attack while Alice Harkness pulled off some fantastic saves at the other end, as she has done throughout the qualifiers.
Netherlands restored their two goal lead 9 minutes into the second half as Van Ee got her name on the scoresheet again following a strong run and low finish. They then put the game to bed 6 minutes from time through an Arte Brueren goal.
With 3 minutes to go, McFrederick finally got the goal she deserved, finishing off a great passing move from close range.
Earlier in the day Sweden beat Belgium 8-3 to confirm their top spot in the group with three wins out from three, while Belarus and Finland topped the other qualifying sections.
Main round: 12–15 September
Group 1: Spain (hosts), Italy, Romania, Poland
Group 2: Russia, Slovenia, Croatia (hosts), Sweden
Group 3: Kazakhstan, Ukraine (hosts), Hungary, Belarus
Group 4: Portugal (hosts), Serbia, Czech Republic, Finland
The four group winners progress to February’s knockout finals, hosted by one of the qualifiers.