Northern Ireland match winner Josh Magennis admitted he feared the mood would deteriorate before two late goals secured a 2-1 victory over Kosovo to finally end their long run without victory in the Nations League.
Gavin Whyte canceled out Vedat Muriqi’s 82nd-minute strike before sending in the cross which Magennis powered home in stoppage time to give Northern Ireland their first victory in this competition at the 15th attempt , and relieve some of the pressure on Ian Baraclough.
A small section of fans had once again called on the manager to go ahead of Whyte’s equaliser, and this win was huge for Northern Ireland for a number of reasons after a few days of testing which saw Kyle Lafferty and Conor McMenamin retire of the team due to circulating videos. on line.
“It was a tough, difficult transplant,” Magennis said. “It was about to be, not toxic but they [the fans] were not happy.
“I’m just happy that we showed the character. The first half wasn’t the best, but in the second half we had to come out and play. Going a goal behind at any level is tough, but to equalize and then go on and win is huge.
The Wigan striker admitted he didn’t actually see his head hit the net but knew from the noise inside Windsor Park what happened.
“It was the type of goal I like trying to create,” he said.
“Gavin is a diehard winger, one of the last of the old school, and I knew from training all week when he gets past his defender that he will put him in the box and thank God when he arrives, I knew if it was on target, he would have a good chance of getting in.
“I didn’t see him come in, I was on the floor, but the place erupted. Being the winner was awesome.
The official announcement that McMenamin had been dropped from the squad came less than an hour before kick-off, and only a day after Lafferty was also sent home.
After the match, Baraclough said the problems had been a distraction the team could do without, but Magennis believes the players handled the situation in the right way.
“It wasn’t a difficult environment the last few days,” he said. “The gaffer took that responsibility on himself and told us to just focus on the game.
“We knew everything; they’re our teammates and at the hotel it’s a confined space, you can’t be away from anyone for 10 days, so we knew what was going on.
“But before it had a chance to come to us, Patrick (IFA chief executive Nelson), the gaffer and (captain Steven Davis) took it upon themselves to deal with the situation and c that’s what they did.
“We knew it would always be on people’s minds and people would make their opinions known, but life is like that.
“We did our best to perform and luckily we were able to get the win.”