Hatters youngster on target for Northern Ireland U17s in heavy France U17s defeat

Still on target for his country during 5-2 loss
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Luton Town youngster Dylan Stitt was on target for Northern Ireland’s U17s as they were beaten 5-2 by France U17s in the second game of their UEFA U17 Euro 2024 Elite Round qualifying campaign on Saturday.

Following a quiet start to proceedings, Belfast-born Stitt, who moved to Kenilworth Road in the summer after being in Linfield's academy, found the net from Alex Watson’s corner. Irish keeper Owen Grainger saved well from Yael Thebault, but France levelled through Mohamed Kader Meite and were 2-1 ahead by the break, Enzo Sternal on target.

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After the interval, Meite extended the advantage for the French, but Northern Ireland reduced the deficit thanks to Braiden Graham. However, France weren’t to be denied as Yanis Sellami and Pape Cabral found the net, while the hosts had Alfie Friars sent off. Coach Andrew Waterworth told the Irish FA website: "I am pleased and proud of the team. Our performance was first rate.

Luton U18s midfielder Dylan Stitt - pic: Luton Town FCLuton U18s midfielder Dylan Stitt - pic: Luton Town FC
Luton U18s midfielder Dylan Stitt - pic: Luton Town FC

"We have matched France for quality for most parts of this game. Naturally - when we had a man sent off which ended our competitiveness in the game. On the few occasions that we dropped quality we were punished and that is exactly what these nations do to you which is exactly why it’s important we keep getting our teams to the elite rounds.

"We played front foot football and pressed aggressively which caught France by surprise and our goals were of real quality. And, the ones we conceded are ones that we can take so much learning from and it will be absolutely crucial learning for each of those players moving forward."

Northern Ireland had lost 5-1 to England’s U17s in their opening game of the campaign last week. The Irish had once more taken the lead when Callum Burnside was on target with 19 minutes gone, Divine Mukasa drawing the Three Lions level on the half hour. Stitt went close to making it 2-1 before half time, but in the second period, England then romped home, Mukasa netting a second, with Baylee Dipepa (2) and Ethan Nwaneri also scoring.

Northern Ireland’s final game in the mini tournament is against Hungary on Tuesday at 7pm.

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