Worthington enthused by draw

18 November 2010 07:30

Nigel Worthington hailed another positive performance after an inexperienced Northern Ireland side snatched a late draw against Morocco.

Rory Patterson struck an 86th-minute penalty at wet Windsor Park to ensure a low-key international friendly finished 1-1 after Arsenal's Marouane Chamakh capitalised on a goalkeeping error to open the scoring. Having been forced by withdrawals to make eight changes for the encounter, Worthington was satisfied with the outcome.

"Some people question these situations but, from my point of view, they are always worthwhile," he said. "They have been challenged and they have come through the challenge."

Worthington added: "Morocco had a lot of the ball but we kept our shape, the young ones took the information from the last couple of days on board. At the end of the day we have not been beaten in the game, which is a huge plus. Some of the young ones have come through with good steady performances."

In-form West Brom winger Chris Brunt, playing just behind lone striker Patterson, had the best opportunities of a drab and goalless first half but consistently failed to hit the target.

Brunt was removed along with captain Aaron Hughes, as expected, among the four changes that were made at half-time.

One of the players to come on was goalkeeper Alan Blayney and the Linfield number one had been on the field just 10 minutes when he committed the gaffe that led to the Morocco goal.

Blayney miscontrolled a pass from another substitute, Rory McArdle, and Chamakh moved in. Blayney desperately tried to kick away but Chamakh was too quick and the clearance rebounded off the Gunners forward and into the net.

It was a horrendous error but was quickly put into context by news Blayney had travelled to the ground just hours after his partner had given birth to a son.

"I was disappointed for Alan but it has been a terrific day for him and we have come out of the game unbeaten," said Worthington. "He's fine and I have given him every encouragement. It is one of those you learn from. You cannot take a split second to delay. I was just delighted when we went the goal down the rest of the players kept their nerve ."

Source: PA