Northern Ireland: ‘There’s no blame on Josh’ – Ian Baraclough on Magennis’ red card

Josh Magennis is sent off
Josh Magennis’ first-half sending off put Northern Ireland on the back foot

Ian Baraclough feels Josh Magennis’ dismissal in Northern Ireland’s Nations League draw away to Romania was “harsh, but we have to live with it”.

Magennis was shown two yellow cards for challenges in the air but NI boss Baraclough argued similar incidents happened “all over the park”.

Already a goal down through George Puskas, NI dug deep and earned a point thanks to Gavin Whyte’s late equaliser.

“There’s no blame on Josh, it is just the referee’s interpretation,” he said.

Hull City forward Magennis was sent off on 38 minutes and goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell was in inspired form to keep the visitors in the game.

Baraclough was proud of his players’ resilience in Bucharest as substitutes Kyle Lafferty and Whyte linked up for an 86th-minute equaliser to secure Northern Ireland’s first ever Nations League point.

“We felt they were always going to try and go for a second and that would give us chances,” he said.

“The lads had to rally around, get through to half-time and we could reorganise a little bit.

“We knew it was going to be key with the substitutions and fresh legs, to have an impact coming off the bench and all the guys certainly did that.”

Ian Baraclough and Daniel Balalrd
Ian Baraclough praised the impact of debutant Arsenal’s Dan Ballard, who stepped in for veteran defender Jonny Evans

In his first game as Michael O’Neill’s successor, Baraclough feels his side were “a bit desperate to do well” in the early stages despite a lack of match fitness throughout the team.

“There was always going to be a little bit of rustiness,” added the Englishman.

“We only have Davo [Steven Davis] who had been playing some games, and some of the lads hadn’t kicked a ball in anger since March.

“Dan Ballard was playing his first game in over a year since major surgery, so the way the lads have gone about it made me very proud.”