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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 June, 2003, 20:57 GMT 21:57 UK
Georgians hold Irish U21s
Sean Thornton is one of the big hopes of Irish football
Sean Thornton missed a great chance for the Irish after half-time

Rep of Ireland U21s 1-1 Georgia U21s

A Colin Cryan goal early in the second half earned the Republic of Ireland Under-21s a share of the spoils with Georgia at Buckley Park, Kilkenny.

Despite the news that Ireland had unknowingly played the suspended Liam Miller in Friday's 2-1 victory over Albania, the home side took the game to the visitors.

Even after Keith Gilroy was sent off in the 62nd minute, Ireland looked the more likely side to win the game.

Irish wingers Thomas Butler and Andy Reid looked lively early on but the Georgian defence held firm.

Georgia were dangerous from set-pieces with playmaker Giorgi Dekanosidze's deliveries putting debut Ireland goalkeeper Dan Connor under pressure on several occasions.

The visitors took the lead on 25 minutes with Dekanosidze's wonderful pass splitting the Irish defence for Lado Akhalaia to toe poke past Connor.

Akhalaia almost notched a second goal in the 29th minute but his firm header was superbly blocked by goalkeeper Connor.

Two minutes later Connor was again called into action as he raced off his line to cut out a wonderful lofted pass for Gocha Khojava as Georgia threatened to overrun Ireland.

Republic of Ireland U21 manager Don Givens
Don Givens' side were reduced to 10 men

Ireland started to make inroads at the beginning of the second half and should have been level in the 48th minute when a Reid corner found Sean Thornton unmarked inside the six yard box.

Clearly surprised by the chance, Thornton failed to get any power in his shot and goalkeeper Zurab Mamaladze cleared.

But Ireland were level on 53 minutes after a mistake by Mamaladze who failed to hold a Thornton free-kick.

Defender Cryan was first to the loose ball to head over Mamaladze and into the empty net.

The goal gave Ireland the confidence to look for a win and Georgia's back line did well to withstand some strong Irish pressure.

But Ireland were also leaving gaps at the back which Akhalaia was looking to exploit and, in the 62nd minute, he broke free of the defence only for Gilroy to pull back the striker.

Referee Robert Johnsdorf tried to play an advantage but when none was forthcoming he called play back sending off Gilroy.

In the 73rd minute Cryan almost grabbed his second when he rose to head Reid's corner only for Mamaladze to pull off a fine save.

Georgia, despite their numerical advantage, did not really threaten until the final minutes when Mikheal Bobokhidze and Giorgi Tchelidze both saw shots flash wide.

Rep of Ireland U21: Connor, Capper, Kelly, Cryan, Thompson, Gilroy, Butler, Barrett, O'Flynn, Thornton, Reid. Subs: Byrne, Kohlmann, Kevin O'Connor, Graham Ward, Deeney, Hoolahan, Elliott.

Georgia U21: Mamaladze, Tsimakuridze, Salukvadze, Intskirveli, Kandelaki, Gamezardashvili, Khojava, Tchelidze, Akhalaia, Dekanosidze, Bobokhidze. Subs: Ivardava, Berianidze, Sajaia, Kokiashvili, Rekhviashvili, Akhalkatsi, Chkhetiani.

Referee: R Johnsdorf (Luxembourg)




SEE ALSO
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