ALL THINGS IRELAND: IRELAND'S WORLD CUP CAMPAIGN ENDS WITH A WIN
IRELAND BEAT NEW ZEALAND FOR THE 1ST TIME 40-29 IN HISTORIC WIN IN CHICAGO...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

IRELAND'S WORLD CUP CAMPAIGN ENDS WITH A WIN

Ireland’s last home international, the defeat against Sweden, petered out in an series of aimless punts so it was refreshing to see a team determined to get the ball down and pass it around.

Kazakhstan’s defensive tactics gave them plenty of time and space in possession as the visitors sat off, packing out the area in front of their goal instead. It gave Ireland ample opportunity to move the ball out of defence with the back four, James McCarthy and Darron Gibson (later Glenn Whelan) all linking well.

McCarthy in particular seemed to thrive given the opportunity to put his stamp on the game and while not perfect, this was another night where the youngster grew in international confidence.

Apart from some hurried clearances from David Forde, there were few long balls out from the back. When Richard Dunne did try one early in the second half, it seemed to catch the Kazakh defence off guard and very nearly led to a goal for Robbie Keane.

… but there was a worrying lack of cutting edge

For all of their dominance in possession, Ireland created very few clear-cut chances to trouble Sidelnikov beyond the three goals. Noel King’s decision to go with Anthony Stokes and Kevin Doyle at the expense of more recognised wingers led to a narrowness in attack that played into Kazakhstan’s hands.

Seamus Coleman did his best to push on in support and was Ireland’s best wide outlet for long periods but on the other side, Marc Wilson was much more conservative. Stokes grew into the game in the second half but lacked end product, often turning back onto his stronger right foot which cost him valuable seconds and allowed the Kazakhs to regroup.

It wasn’t until Aiden McGeady’s introduction in the final 15 minutes that Ireland had a true “winger” on the pitch. Within minutes he had created Ireland’s third goal, turned into his own net by Shomko.

Andy Reid shone — despite a lack of support

For most observers, it was a toss-up between Andy Reid and James McCarthy for Ireland’s Man of the Match. Winning his first international cap since 2008, Reid carried over his excellent club form and proved that he still has plenty to offer this squad at the age of 31.

Playing just in behind Keane as the central man in a 4-2-3-1, Reid was the lively link in most of Ireland’s best moves. There were a few loose passes but he showed good touch and control for the most part, keeping the team on the front foot. On top of that, his set piece delivery led to Ireland’s first two goals.

“Immense” was King’s assessment afterwards and the sparse Aviva crowd clearly agreed, giving him a warm reception when he was taken off with 15 minutes to play.

©Journal.ie

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