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International Match

National (ATT 1,850) 17th August 2005 - Kick off 19:00 Ref: M Riley

Malta Malta vs Northern Ireland N Ireland

Malta 1

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Taylor spares NI blushes

By Tom Adams.   Last Updated: 17/08/05 7:29pm

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Northern Ireland had Maik Taylor to thank for a last gasp-penalty save as Lawrie Sanchez presided over his tenth game without a win in a1-1 draw in Malta.

David Healy added another strike to his international record within ten minutes before Ivan Woods equalised for the home side before the break.

Woods ended an eventful night as he was dismissed along with Keith Gillespie on 77 minutes for violent conduct, before Maik Taylor spared the visitors blushes by saving a last minute spot-kick

Sanchez's men sustained early pressure as Andrew Cohen and Roderick Briffa both had good opportunities to beat Taylor.

However Healy then added to his burgeoning collection of international goals after just nine minutes as Northern Ireland executed a good counter-attack.

Damien Johnson created the chance with a good chip to the far post where Healy was waiting to head in his 18 strike for his country.

Sanchez's men began to take control although were sent a reminder of the danger of the home side as Peter Pullicino drove just wide on 19 minutes.

Healy had a further chance to score although Malta's efforts were rewarded on 35 minutes, when Woods slammed home from a free-kick after dodging Jeff Whitley.

Northern Ireland continued to look for the advantage in the second period as Healy just missed out on latching onto a Colin Murdock through-ball before Hull hot-shot Stuart Elliot failed to trouble Justin Haber when well-placed.

However the home side continued to threaten and Woods could have had a second as he showed a lack of composure by shooting over after 59 minutes.

His night was to end just 18 minutes later as he reacted by raising his hands to Gillespie after the winger's tackle on Cohen - with both players dismissed for violent conduct.

It was left to Taylor to preserve parity as he saved George Malia's penalty after Stephen Craigan felled Antoine Zahra in the dying moments.

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