Republic of Ireland 0-0 Northern Ireland: Martin O'Neill's side sluggish in stalemate
By Ron Walker
Last Updated: 16/11/18 9:53am
Jordan Jones came closest for Northern Ireland as they were held to a stalemate by a limp Republic side at the Aviva Stadium.
The visitors had more shots, possession and passes than their hosts and also produced the only real moments of quality in a scrappy game.
Gavin Whyte, making his first Northern Ireland start, was denied by Darren Randolph in the 14th minute after Stuart Dallas found him free in the box.
After half-time, defender Darragh Lenihan was caught in possession by substitute Jones, but he too found Randolph's goal impenetrable and the Middlesbrough goalkeeper stuck out a leg to turn his shot behind.
Republic of Ireland: Randolph (8), Coleman (7), Duffy (5), Egan (6), Lenihan (5), McClean (5), Whelan (6), Brady (6), Hendrick (5), O’Dowda (5), Robinson (6).
Subs: Hourihane (5), Curtis (6), Maguire (5), Stevens (6), Hogan (5), Christie (n/a).
Northern Ireland: Peacock-Farrell (6), Smith (7), Cathcart (7), J Evans (6), Lewis (8), C Evans (7), Whyte (7), Davis (7), Saville (7), Dallas (7), Boyce (6).
Subs: Jones (7), McNair (6), Lafferty (6), Ward (6).
Man of the match: Darren Randolph
Shane Duffy should have done better for the Republic with a mistimed header failing to test Bailey Peacock-Farrell, but they did little to relieve any pressure on manager Martin O'Neill, who has now won only one of his last 10 games in charge.
Sky Sports guest and former Republic of Ireland striker John Walters said his country played like the away side - and Northern Ireland certainly looked more comfortable at the Aviva Stadium.
They should have been in front when Whyte was given a glorious chance to mark his debut with a goal when the visitors found space down the left through Jamal Lewis. A quick passing move found Dallas and then Whyte, but with the whole goal to aim at he was slow to react to Randolph's run off his line and his rushed shot was cleared away.
At the other end, the Republic's few dangerous moments all came from set-pieces, and from an excellent Robbie Brady delivery Duffy's scuffed header down into the ground still needed turning over by Peacock-Farrell, but should have been rippling the back of the net.
The Republic of Ireland handed Glenn Whelan a 75th, and perhaps final cap, before he was substituted with 35 minutes gone.
Northern Ireland handed a debut to Gavin Whyte after his impressive performances for Oxford.
After half-time things got little better for the hosts, despite a half-time change from O'Neill, and Randolph handed them another reprieve when Lenihan was robbed of possession by Jones, who went for the far corner once he ran through on goal but was denied by the goalkeeper's wonderful save.
While Northern Ireland's unwanted run of their own - now stretching to one win in seven - was extended with the stalemate, they had far more to take from the game than their hosts, who managed just two shots on target all evening.
Man of the match - Darren Randolph
Randolph proved the difference between a draw and defeat for the Republic of Ireland, who were indebted to his two fine saves in either half to earn them their stalemate.
His first save, from Whyte, was good but owed a lot to his speed off his line, while his second, from Jones, was even better, when he displayed superb reactions to stick out a leg and divert his effort round the post.
- Republic of Ireland have lost only one of their last nine international matches against Northern Ireland (W4 D4) - a 1-0 loss at home in May 1999.
- Republic of Ireland have won just one of their last 10 matches in all competitions (D4 L5) and are winless in their last five (D3 L2) since a 2-1 victory against the USA back in June.
- Northern Ireland have won just two of their last 12 games in all competitions (D3 L7) scoring just seven goals and conceding 14 during this period.
- Northern Ireland have failed to score in any of their last seven away games (D2 L5), a run dating back to October 2017 - they last went longer without a goal away from home between May 1981 and October 1983 (run of nine).