Jun 2, 2017 at 7.45pm UK at ​Windsor Park
Northern Ireland
New ZealandNew Zealand
Boyce (6')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Durante (87')

Live Commentary: Northern Ireland 1-0 New Zealand - as it happened

Michael O'Neill during the Euro 2016 Group C match between Ukraine and Northern Ireland on July 16, 2016
Relive Sports Mole's live text coverage of Northern Ireland's 1-0 friendly win over New Zealand, as an early Liam Boyce strike proved the difference.

Northern Ireland scraped a 1-0 win over New Zealand in Friday night's international friendly clash at Windsor Park, courtesy of an early Liam Boyce strike.

The Ross County striker found the net six minutes in for his first goal in the green and white strip, but the hosts failed to add to their tally.

Josh Magennis squandered a few openings, yet the only chance created by the All Whites all night proved to be the best of the lot - substitute Kosta Barbarouses picking out the post when played through on goal.

Relive how the 90 minutes of action unfolded with Sports Mole's live text coverage below.

7.15pmHello and welcome to Sports Mole's live text coverage of the international friendly meeting between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at Windsor Park in Belfast. This match provides the home side with a chance to get themselves back up to speed following a short break - as long as five weeks for some! - while the visitors are gearing up towards the upcoming Confederations Cup.

7.17pmNorthern Ireland have a huge qualifier against Azerbaijan in a little over a week's time, which should the result go their way would put them in a very strong position to make the playoffs for a place in Russia 2018. The opposition head into this match on the back of a run that has seen them lose just one of their last 16 matches, meanwhile, although the quality of the sides they have faced in that time has not been all that great.

7.19pmTEAM NEWS!

NORTHERN IRELAND XI: McGovern; McLaughlin, Evans, Flanagan, Hughes, Brunt; Norwood, Lund, Dallas; Magennis, Boyce

NEW ZEALAND XI: Marinovic, Boxall, McGlinchey, Wood, Rojas, Thomas, Lewis, Doyle, Colvey, Smith, Durante

7.21pmThe big team news from Ireland's perspective is that Burton Albion defender Tom Flanagan is handed his international bow. Jonny Evans, sporting the captain's armband at Windsor Park this evening, will line up alongside him in defence as manager Martin O'Neill experiments slightly with the options available to him. There is also a start for in-form Ross County striker Liam Boyce, with Conor Washington and Jamie Ward - both on the scoresheet against Norway last time out - absent from the squad.

7.23pmElsewhere, Matthew Lund and Josh Magennis are involved from the off some five weeks from their last outings, with O'Neill admitting in the build-up to the match that giving playing time to some of those, shall we say 'well rested' players, was always going to be a priority. Regular defenders Craig Cathcart only reported for training on Thursday and Gareth McAuley 24 hours later, so no surprise to see them miss out on this friendly match.

7.25pmThere was expected to be a debut handed to Shay McCartan, too, having cancelled his pre-planned holiday to be involved this week, but he has to settle for a place among the subs. O'Neill turns to Michael McGovern between the sticks and there are also some experienced Championship heads further forward in Stuart Dallas and Oliver Norwood. By no means the Green and White Army's strongest XI, but still a decent enough lineup that should get the job done.

7.27pmIn terms of the visitors, manager Anthony Hudson has gone with Marco Rojas in attack alongside leading man Chris Wood, who skippers the All Whites tonight on the back of a campaign that saw him top the Championship scoring charts. There is no place for regular captain Winston Reid, however, as the West Ham United defender recently underwent an operation that will rule him out for a good couple of months - including the confederations Cup.

Leeds United striker Chris Wood poses with his Championship player of the award for January 2017 [DO NOTE USE UNTIL FEB 10]


NORTHERN IRELAND SUBS: Ferguson, Thompson, McGinn, Davis, D. Lafferty, Mannus, Paton, McCartan, K. Lafferty, Carroll

NEW ZEALAND SUBS: Brotherton, Wynne, Tzimopolous, Tuiloma, Barbaraouses, Smeltz, Moss, Patterson, Ingham, Rufer, Roux, Williams

7.31pmExpect O'Neill to use the vast majority of his squad this evening, with plenty of players in need of some playing time ahead of the trip to Baku. Not all of them will be involved for that crucial qualifier, of course, but for some - including uncapped McCartan - this will provide them with invaluable experience looking ahead to the future. Lafferty's Daniel and Kyle are also included as part of the 22-man squad.

7.33pmNorthern Ireland on a real high at the moment, then, heading into this match sitting 26th in the latest FIFA world rankings - 68 places higher than their opponents. Since reaching the knockout stages of Euro 2016, where they suffered defeat to Home Nation rivals Wales, the Green and White Army have lost just two of their six outings. They have defeated San Marino, Azerbaijan and Norway recently, leaving them second in World Cup qualifying.

7.35pmWith that in mind it comes as no surprise to see O'Neill linked with so many jobs at Championship level, most recently seeing his name tipped with the Norwich City hot seat. The bad news for Ireland is that they were put in the same group as perennial qualifiers Germany - inevitably ruling out top spot - but they enjoyed the first half of their campaign and sit second in the standings, three points ahead of next opponents Azerbaijan.

7.37pmDID YOU KNOW? It has been 14 games since both teams found the net in a game involving Northern Ireland, stretching back to a 1-1 pre-Euro 2016 friendly with Wales in Cardiff. The Green and White Army have scored 16 and conceded seven during that time, but they come up against a New Zealand side boasting an eight-match run without shipping a goal.

7.39pmIt does have to be said that the All Whites have not exactly faced off against high-calibre opposition, however, with recent friendlies against the United States and Mexico perhaps offering a better gauge. The first of those finished 1-1 and the latter in a 2-1 defeat - their only loss in 16 matches since May 2015. Their most recent outings saw them pick up a couple of 2-0 wins over Fiji.

7.41pmNew Zealand also take on Belarus in a friendly prior to heading for Russia for the start of the Confederations Cup, where they are in the same group as Portugal, Mexico and the tournament hosts. Making it out of that group and into the semi-finals will be a major ask of Anthony Hudson, who has previously managed in the English leagues with Newport County. One step at a time, though - first he will be seeking victory in Belfast.

Michael O'Neill during the Euro 2016 Group C match between Ukraine and Northern Ireland on July 16, 2016© AFP

7.43pmBoth sets of players are now out on the field of play, with the anthems still to come. Ahead of kickoff at Windsor Park, let us check out some pre-match thoughts from both camps.

Michael O'Neill: "I've known for some time the team I'd like to play in Azerbaijan. This game is to see where the players are physically. It is not about form really. If someone comes in and looks in great physical condition then it will give me something to think about. If they look below par, equally. That's the key - to make sure they're not undercooked or overcooked."

Anthony Hudson: "We want to go there, not just to take part, we want to go there and really do something significant. Our ranking is what it is, that's down to the state of where we've been over the last three years, although we have been very good recently."

1 minKICKOFF! We are up and running at Windsor Park. Focus elsewhere for both managers, with bigger matches to come, but this is an ideal friendly for both teams to start building some momentum in their first-ever meeting.

3 minBright enough start made by the hosts, as they look to find a way through. Been over a months since some of them were out on the field, but they have spent a couple of weeks in Manchester ticking along with the Azerbaijan match in mind.


6 minHe certainly deserved his chance this evening after an impressive Scottish Premiership season, and Liam Boyce has given his manager some thinking to do ahead of the trip to Baku. Magennis picked out the Ross County ace, who cut inside and found a way past Stefan Marinovic.

8 minSAVES! Good stop from Stefan Marinovic to deny Magennis from bagging the hosts a second. From another corner kick the Charlton Athletic forward again finds the target, but he is thwarted by the Kiwis' keeper.

10 minIreland coasting at the moment, scoring one and coming close to bagging a couple of others. O'Neill will be looking to add to the tally prior to the break, when he may be tempted to give some others a run-out. Flanagan with a shot that is easily handled.

12 minThat Boyce goal was Northern Ireland's 650th in international football, incidentally. Decent work from the striker to work a shooting position and place the ball past the keeper. New Zealand struggling to find any sort of momentum.

14 minAll very simple for the home side, with close to 15 minutes of the match played. The All Whites just need to find their composure a little because they have failed to really get the ball in their opponents' final third.

16 minA quieter spell in the game, which is good news for the visitors as they have managed to hold off the onslaught. An early goal for Northern Ireland here, as well as a couple of chances for Magennis that were kept out.

18 minBoyce jumps high to challenge Stefan Marinovic for a high ball into the box. The New Zealand keeper failed to get a hold it but the referee felt that Boyce made a little too much contact - replays show that he was correct.

20 minNearly a quarter of the match has now been played and New Zealand have failed to string together a pass of note in a dangerous area of the pitch. Hudson will be hoping they can give a better account of themselves in the remainder.

22 minFor all their possession, the home side have failed to do a great deal with it over the past 10 minutes or so. Slow tempo to the match on the whole, which many would have predicted before the first ball was kicked.

24 minA rare New Zealand attack, as the ball is worked to Clayton Lewis to get a cross into the area. Headed away easily enough in the end, but that is at least a sign of encouragement for the All Whites for the remaining three quarters.

26 minMuch better from the All Whites over the past few minutes. Again, the attack came to little as Chris Wood dragged his attempt wide from range, but a good passing move to get them to that point and more encouragement.

28 minSHOT! Rojas gets the beating of McLaughlin but he was unable to pick out any of his teammates. The momentum has definitely swung in New Zealand's favour, but Ireland countered and Brunt became the latest to drag horribly wide.

30 minAll very slow at the moment at Windsor Park, I'm afraid. Northern Ireland definitely been the better side in Belfast and are good value for their lead, but they have done little to build on it in the last 15 to 20 minutes.

32 minFollowing a short stoppage for Tommy Smith to receive some treatment, we are back up and running. Ireland just need to increase the tempo because they are falling into the trap of cruising at the moment, despite having just a one-goal lead.

34 minNorwood with a silly challenge considering this is just a friendly. A little lucky to avoid a caution from the referee, who no doubt gave the midfielder a first and last warning to watch himself. Still just the one goal in it.

36 minTom Doyle swings a cross into the box but it is all very simple for McGovern, who is there to collect. Not been a great deal for him to do in these opening 36 minutes, with Wood coming closest when dragging wide of goal.

38 minMcLaughlin blasts the ball through a sea of bodies and into the back of the net, but the whistle had sounded a second or so beforehand. A shove in the box to blame for that, with the referee doing well to spot the infringement.

40 minMarinovic's turn to collect a simple cross into the box. Been a very quiet first half on the whole, with all the big chances arriving in the opening 10 minutes or so. Ireland deservedly ahead but not exactly running away with it.

42 minA slightly better cross into the New Zealand box, where Chris Wood is waiting to glance the ball. Under pressure and a fair distance from goal, he was unable to direct it on target from what was basically the visitors' best sight of goal thus far.

44 minSAVE! Good chance for Magennis to score a second on the brink of half time, but after charging through on goal he was denied by Stefan Marinovic at his near post. Tight angle so maybe should have passed it.


8.35pmThe half-time whistle sounds at Windsor Park. New Zealand have had one half-chance all evening, which Chris Wood could not make the most of, while Northern Ireland scored early on and should have added at least one more to their tally.

8.38pmThe home side edged a fairly flat first half, taking the lead early on through Liam Boyce's first international goal and creating a few more chances that they were unable to make the most of. Boyce did well when the opening fell his way six minutes in, cutting inside and firing past Stefan Marinovic from inside the area to get off the mark.

8.41pmMarinovic was being kept busy in the opening stages, denying Josh Magennis from a couple of corners as the Green and White Army went in search of a second goal. They may not have been at full strength, with debutant Tom Flanagan among those being given a run in the side, but it was proving to be an easy evening for the hosts as the first half wore on.

8.44pmChris Brunt dragged horribly wide with one attempt and Chris Wood likewise up the other end, but a slightly better opportunity presented itself for the Leeds United striker soon after. A cross from the right was met with his head, though he was under pressure and failed to get the desired contact on the ball. It failed to get much better for the All Whites, while Ireland's best opening for a second fell Magennis's way right on the brink of half time, only for the Charlton Athletic man to blast at Marinovic from a tight angle.

8.47pmWill either manager make any changes at the midway point? Plenty of options available to both Michael O'Neill and Anthony Hudson...

NORTHERN IRELAND SUBS: Ferguson, Thompson, McGinn, Davis, D. Lafferty, Mannus, Paton, McCartan, K. Lafferty, Carroll

NEW ZEALAND SUBS: Brotherton, Wynne, Tzimopolous, Tuiloma, Barbaraouses, Smeltz, Moss, Patterson, Ingham, Rufer, Roux, Williams

Slovakia's Vladimir Weiss (L) and Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty (R) vie for a ball during the a UEFA EURO 2016 friendly football match between Slovakia and Northern Ireland in Trnava, on June 4, 2016© AFP

45 minRESTART! We are back under way at Windsor Park, where there is indeed some news of half-time changes to bring you. Boyce, Lund and Brunt all make way for the hosts; Lafferty, Davis and Ferguson on in their place.

47 minCLOSE! A change for the visitors, too, as Bill Tuiloma has replaced Clayton Lewis. Close to a second, this time through Kyle Lafferty as he nearly stabbed home a Josh Magennis cross from the right. Tom Doyle close up the other end.

49 minFour or five decent chances for the home side to have bagged a killer second, but they have failed to take any of them. Likely won't matter at this rate, but O'Neill will want to see his side rack up one or two more.

51 minCertainly more of a game on our hands in this second half, with Ireland still looking the better side but at least being put under a bit more pressure. A slight change of system from the visitors at the break to thank for that.

53 minWood nearly in behind but the offside flag was up. A pass sprayed out to the right-hand flank up the other end, only for McLaughlin's first-time delivery to be cut out. Can sense a second goal arriving - which way will it go?

55 minHome fans now urging their side on, knowing that victory - even without qualifying points on the line - will do their players the world of good in terms of keeping the feel-good factor alive. A New Zealand goal now would be cruel.

57 minNearly an hour of the match now played so we could see a few more changes shortly. The game has gone quiet again over the past five minutes, but it was a lively enough start to the second half prior to that.

59 minThe Green and White Army back to bossing possession, without really troubling the Kiwis' backline. Marinovic with good handling to get to a left-sided cross ahead of Jonny Evans, who remained high up the pitch.

61 minWood picked out by Smith but unable to work enough space to get a shot away. A one-goal scoreline looking as though it may be enough for Ireland at this rate, with their opponents unable to test McGovern.

63 minNEW ZEALAND SUBS! Marco Rojas and Kip Colvey are taken off for New Zealand, with Patterson Monty and Kosta Barbarouses on in their place. Fresh legs for the visitors, then, but will it provide fresh impetus?

65 minCLOSE! Magennis with his fourth chance of the match, which he again fails to make the most of. Great delivery from Shane Ferguson, sending the ball into a central position where his teammate was waiting to powerfully head over.

67 minThree-quarters of the match played and still just that early Boyce goal between the two sides. Northern Ireland really should have added at least a couple more to their tally, but as things stand it is still delicately poised.

69 minOFF THE POST! Big, big chance for New Zealand to level things up. Kosta Barbarouses was played in behind and had time to compose himself, but he could only send his shot back off the post. Should be 1-1!

71 minNEW ZEALAND SUB! Deklan Wynne on for Tom Doyle now as Anthony Hudson continues to use his full squad. For all Ireland's dominance in the opening 68 minutes of the match it should be 1-1 heading into these closing stages.

73 minNORTHERN IRELAND SUB! The hosts' latest change sees Paul Paton come on for Dallas, only slowing the tempo. It is the All Whites who are looking the livelier at the moment, buoyed by that huge chance a little earlier.

75 minI'm sure Michael O'Neill will be happy enough with what he has seen - this was always about fitness rather than the margin of victory. Should New Zealand snatch a draw, though, it will put a bit of a downer on things.

77 minThirteen minutes left to play at Windsor Park, plus what will likely be the regulation three or four minutes added on. A much better second half in terms of the sides being more evenly matched, but it is looking likely that Ireland will get over the line.

79 minThe minutes continue to tick down and still McGovern has not had a save to make. That is the major disappointment from the visitors' perspective, with Barbarouses missing by far their best chance of the evening - the post coming to Ireland's rescue.

81 minNEW ZEALAND SUB! Shane Smeltz, the most capped player in this New Zealand squad, is introduced with a little under 10 minutes of normal time to go. Ryan Thomas the player to make way. Ireland also about to make a change or two.

83 minNORTHERN IRELAND SUB! Play being massive disrupted now by all these changes. McGovern is off and Carroll comes on for a late cameo, while McCartan is on for his debut in place of Magennis. The departing striker somehow failed to score tonight.

85 minThe home side looking to end with a flourish. Davis is picked out in some space inside the area after a rare attacking move full of quality, but he was placed the ball wide. Offside flag was up on the far side, regardless, so would not have counted.

87 minYELLOW CARD! First, and probably only, caution of this friendly match is shown to Andrew Durante for a challenge on the edge of the box on debutant McCartan. The Accrington man took the free kick but picked out the wall.

89 minWe are into the final 60 seconds of the contest at Windsor Park. The official has already indicated that we will play just two minutes of added time, so maybe time for another chance. Ireland have done enough to get themselves over the line.


9.40pmThe full-time whistle is blown, meaning another home win for Northern Ireland. This one will not live all that long in the memory, in truth, coming via a first international goal from Liam Boyce early on. The hosts should have won by more in terms of chances created, yet the best opening of the lot fell New Zealand's way 20 minutes from time.

9.42pmThat concludes Sports Mole's live text coverage of events at Windsor Park. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here, and we will be back next week with more coverage from the end-of-season international friendlies and qualifiers. See you then!

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