Jessica Rea celebrates her winning header (Picture: Stephen Hamilton/


A goal from Crusaders midfielder Jessica Rea saw Northern Ireland triumph 1-0 in their Under-19 European Championship Qualifying clash against Wales.

Rea’s header settled the encounter and secured the points for Alfie Wylie’s side who will then face Moldova and Norway in the four-team mini tournament.

The top two sides in 12 groups plus the four third-placed teams with the best record against the top two in their section will go into an elite round draw on 21 November, with the elite round games in spring 2020. Seven teams will eventually join hosts Georgia in the finals in July 2020.

Danske Bank Women’s Premiership players make-up the vast majority of the 20-player squad, with 17 stars from the Northern Ireland top-flight in the ranks.

Lauren Perry and Kelsie Burrows - who have both signed for English side Blackburn Rovers from Linfield - also started the clash.

Six players still contracted to Linfield are also in Wylie’s squad - Naomi Donnan, Kirsty Cameron, Mia Fitzsimmons, Rebecca McKenna, Caitlin McGuinness and Casey Howe.

Rea is one of five Crusaders stars in the squad including goalkeeper Maddy Clifford, defender Beth Chalmers, midfielder Sasha Clare and striker Faith Johnston.

Glentoran midfield duo Kerry Beattie and Joely Andrews along with striker Danielle Maxwell are also included, along with Cliftonville’s Toni-Leigh Finnegan.

On Saturday, Northern Ireland will lock horns with Moldova at The Ballymena Showgrounds (7.30pm) and the Norwegians and Welsh will be in action at Shamrock Park (2pm).