Match Report: Northern Ireland 0-1 Romania

Northern Ireland ended their training camp in Marbella with a 1-0 defeat against Romania on Wednesday afternoon
 
After a hard fought performance it was a close range Carmen Marcu effort following a corner that proved to settle the difference between the sides.
 
Jackie Burns made a fine stop to keep Northern Ireland level inside three minutes when Mara Bâtea fizzed a shot in from outside the box, but the keeper got down well to make the stop. 
 
Kenny Shiels side had their first sight of goal inside 14 minutes when Kirsty McGuinness whipped a free-kick over the wall, but it cracked the top of the crossbar before bouncing over. 
 
Northern Ireland who came into the game of the back of a win against the Faroe Island’s and a draw against a quality Swiss side could have taken the lead, when Nadene Caldwell hit a strike as sweet as a nut just wide from outside the box.
 
On 27 minutes Burns gave the ball away from a goal-kick following a poor pass allowing Ioana Bortan to step onto the ball but she dragged her effort wide albeit from distance.
 
Rebecca Holloway who has been a crucial member of the history making squad came close to breaking the deadlock when Lauren Wade played a short corner into her feet, but she fired just wide from close range.
 
Following a tactical tweak from Shiels that saw him shape his side into a back three with a midfield diamond, allowing Abbie Magee to be moved into a right midfield area they ended the half well dominating possession.
 
On the stroke of the break McGuinness forced a save from Camelia Ceasar who plays her club football at Serie A side Roma when the Cliftonville winger cut inside however, the keeper got down well to make the stop.
 
Northern Ireland started the second half well with Wade and Magee linking up down the wing,before Magee pulled a low cross into the area only for Teodora Meluta to hook the ball away from Simone Magill’s path.
 
Shiels made a number of changes on 59 minutes bringing off Caldwell, Holloway, McGuiness and Laura Rafferty replacing them with Megan Bell , Rachel Furness , Rebecca McKenna and Demi Vance.
 
However Romania, took the lead on 63 minutes when a corner found its way into the path of Marcu who found the back of the net with an improvised finish into the top right hand corner.
 
Two minutes later it was so nearly 1-1 when Magill met a Wade corner perfectly but her header was well blocked by Olivia Oprea at the front-post.
 
Northern Ireland to their credit didn’t let their heads drop, after some fine play between Magill and Furness allowed Wade to find herself in some space, before she dropped her shoulder and drilled an effort towards goal that Ceasar did brilliantly to get across her goal and make the save. 
 
Emily Wilson was the next player to be introduced as the Crusaders forward replaced captain Marissa Callaghan for the final 20 minutes of the game. 
 
Furness was the next player to try her luck as her side went in search of an equaliser as her shot was blocked on the edge of the box before it fell for McCarron and she fizzed her effort over the crossbar. 
 
Romania weren’t offering much in an attacking sense but did create an opening via Laura Rus who drilled her shot wide after some initial good work. 
 
However Northern Ireland responded in a positive fashion when Magill flicked the ball onto Wade before her low powerful shot was blocked. 
 
That was to be Magill’s and Wade’s final bit of action, as they were replaced by Danielle Maxwell and Kerry Beattie for the final few minutes of the game. 
 
The game fizzled out with Bell winning a free-kick in the last minute however , it came to nothing. 
 
A game that could have gone either way with plenty of positives for Shiels to build on ahead of April’s World Cup qualifiers with England and Austria.
 
Northern Ireland: Burns, Magee, Rafferty (Vance 58), McFadden, Holloway (Bell 59), Caldwell (McKenna 59), McCarron, Wade (Maxwell 82), Callaghan (Wilson 72), McGuiness (Furness 59), Magill (Beattie 82).
 
Unused substitutes: Flaherty, Burrows, Andrews, Kelly.
 
Romania: Ceasar ,Meluta, Oprea, Ficzay, Sandu (Gered 69), Bistrian (Tătar 85), Bortan, Vătafu (Rus 61), Bâtea (Herczeg 61), Carp (Vlădulescu), Marcu.
 
Unused substitutes: Boandă, Tunoaia, Pencea 
 
Photo: @NorthernIreland