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16 Nov 2021
© David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press Newry City's John McGovern in Under-21 action

It was a frustrating night for our locally based players as Northern Ireland U21s suffered a two-goal defeat to Malta at Mourneview Park.

John Schofield's side were forced to play over an hour with ten men when Linfield's Trai Hume was sent-off on 32 minutes following an incident with Ayrton Attard as they prepared to contest a corner.

Earlier in the game Hume had provided the assist for Cliftonville's Paul O'Neill who headed just wide while, just after the sending off, he came close with another header after the corner was eventually taken.

Indeed, O'Neill kept knocking at the door and was just narrowly wide with another header in first half stoppage time, as well as carving out another chance midway through the second half.

Larne's Kofi Balmer almost came close only to see his effort cleared off the line on 57 minutes.

In total six players from the Danske Bank Premiership and Lough 41 Championship played some part in the game.

Hume, Balmer and O'Neill all started, as did Dungannon Swifts striker Oisin Smyth. Balmer played the full 90 minutes while O'Neill and Smyth got 71 minutes before being replaced by Ballymena United's Ryan Waide and Caolan Boyd-Munce of Birmingham City respectively.

In addition, Newry City's John McGovern made another appearance, coming on for Paddy Lane also in the 71st minute.