The Republic of Ireland under-23s boosted their chances of qualifying for the semi-finals of the International Challenge Trophy with a well deserved 1-0 win over Estonia in Tallinn.
A Shaun Williams header in the closing minutes of the first half was enough to secure victory for Paul Doolin’s side, who must now wait on results elsewhere before being sure of their place in the competition’s semi-finals.
Williams almost broke the deadlock on 10 minutes, but his powerful drive from 25 yards crashed off the crossbar with Estonian ‘keeper Sergei Lepmets beaten.
The Sporting Fingal midfielder turned provider on 29 minutes when his cross found the head of Kenny Browne, but the Irish defender saw his effort comfortably saved.
Williams was again central to the action on 33 minutes when he connected with Daniel Kearns’s corner, but his effort went narrowly wide.
Ireland’s dominance was growing as the game progressed but the Boys in Green almost found themselves going behind on 38 minutes only for Robert Duggan to brilliantly save from Henri Anier’s close-range header.
Paul Doolin’s side were to go in front just three minutes later, however, and almost inevitably it was Williams who got on the scoresheet. Billy Dennehy’s corner-kick to the back post was headed across goal by Browne and Williams was given the simple task of guiding the ball home from three yards.
Two substitutions early in the second half brought Estonia back into the game and the hosts created a trio of half-chances in the opening twenty minutes of the second period, only one of which – a free-kick from Simm Luts on 61 minutes – forced Duggan into action.
Two long range efforts from Greg Bolger and headers from Graham Cummins and Williams showed that Ireland remained dangerous, however.
Both sides pressed for goals in the closing minutes, Estonia pushing defender Igor Morozo into attack. However, Ireland continued to threaten, although their attacking options were curtailed when Greg Bolger was harshly shown a second yellow card in the final minute for time wasting.
Estonia under-23s: Sergei Lepmets, Markus Jurgenson, Taoijo Teniste, Igor Motozov, Aleksei Jahimovits, Eino Puri, Andero Pebre, Siim Luts, Henri Anier (Ken Kallaste, h/t), Tanel Votti (Albert Taar, 74 mins.), Artjom Dmitrijev (Andre Frolov, 62 mins.)
Substitutes not used: Stanislav Pedok, Andrei Veis, Andres Koogas, Siim Tenno
Republic of Ireland under-23s: Robert Duggan, Seamus Conneely, Conor Powell (Capt.), Kenny Browne, Garry Breen, Shane Duggan, Daniel Kearns (David McMillan, 89 mins.), Shaun Williams, Graham Cummins, Greg Bolger, Billy Dennehy
Substitutes not used: Paul Skinner, Paul Corry, Ross Gaynor, Paddy Madden, Gary McCabe, Enda Stevens
Referee: Eiko Saar (EST)