Michael O'Neill is still waiting for his first win as manager after Northern Ireland made it four draws in a row in a disappointing game in Malta.

In a warm-up for World Cup qualifiers against Russia and Israel, Northern Ireland rarely looked like winning their first away friendly since 2006.

Daniel Lafferty did have the ball in the net but his header from a Chris Brunt corner was ruled out.

Alan Mannus made a good save from Michael Mifsud in the second half.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill says he is disappointed not to have won in Malta.

St Johnstone keeper Mannus produced a solid performance in his first full international game and it was a first clean sheet in 11 matches for Northern Ireland.

It is now eight games without a win for O'Neill since taking over from Nigel Worthington just over a year ago.

The manager seemed to set up the team to play the way they will try to do against the Russians in Belfast next month.

Chris Baird and Kyle Lafferty are both suspended for that game and did not travel to Malta, so there was a Northern Ireland debut for Alex Bruce in the holding midfield role while Walsall's Will Grigg won his second cap up front.

Bruce, who plays under his father Steve at Hull, previously played for the Republic of Ireland but was able to switch allegiance as he did not make a competitive appearance.

Northern Ireland's best moment was in the 18th minute when defender headed in from West Brom team-mate Brunt's corner but referee Nikolay Yordanov disallowed it out for pushing.

Malta were the more threatening side for much of the first half and came close twice through Andre Schembri, who first shot straight at Mannus and then fired just off target.

In the 56th minute Mannus was called into serious action for the first time when former Coventry striker Mifsud unleashed a stinging shot from the right, the keeper palming it away.

In the 63rd minute Inverness striker McKay was introduced, winning his first cap when he replaced Ferguson on the right, with Grigg remaining the lone striker.

The visitors were pressing but in the 70th minute they were indebted to Mannus for an excellent stop to keep out Mifsud once again at close-range.

Pat McCourt and Josh Magennis were introduced late on but there was no way through the Malta defence and the visitors had to settle for a disappointing draw.

Lineup, Bookings (0) & Substitutions (7)

Malta

  • 01 Hogg
  • 02 Alex Muscat
  • 05 Andrei Agius (Camilleri - 46' )
  • 06 Dimech
  • 15 Herrera
  • 04 Sciberras
  • 07 Clayton Failla
  • 08 Paul Fenech
  • 09 Mifsud (Terence Vella - 89' )
  • 10 Cohen
  • 13 Schembri (Bajada - 90' )

Substitutes

  • 12 Haber
  • 03 Zerafa
  • 17 Camilleri
  • 14 Borg
  • 18 Bajada
  • 11 Fenech
  • 16 Terence Vella

Northern Ireland

  • 01 Mannus
  • 03 Lafferty
  • 04 McAuley
  • 05 Evans (Cathcart - 46' )
  • 16 Bruce (McCourt - 72' )
  • 17 Ferguson (McKay - 63' )
  • 18 Hughes
  • 08 S Davis
  • 11 Brunt
  • 14 McGinn
  • 09 Grigg (Magennis - 86' )

Substitutes

  • 12 Doherty
  • 06 Cathcart
  • 20 Carson
  • 07 Shiels
  • 10 Evans
  • 15 McCourt
  • 02 Magennis
  • 19 McKay
  • 21 McGurk
Ref: Nikolay Yordanov
Att: 1,000

Match Stats

Shots

10 7

On target

7 2

Corners

4 5

Fouls

7 10

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +2:29 Full time

Full Time The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.

90:00 +0:44

Chris Brunt takes the free kick.

90:00 +0:44 Substitution

Substitution Andre Schembri leaves the field to be replaced by Shaun Bajada.

90:00 +0:44

The ball is delivered by Niall McGinn, Luke Dimech manages to make a clearance. The ball is delivered by Chris Brunt, clearance by Edward Herrera. Craig Cathcart fouled by Terence Vella, the ref awards a free kick.

88:21 Substitution

Substitution (Malta) makes a substitution, with Terence Vella coming on for Michael Mifsud.

86:12

Shot from 35 yards by Chris Brunt went over the net.

85:33 Substitution

Substitution Josh Magennis comes on in place of Will Grigg.

83:42

Patrick McCourt takes a shot. Edward Herrera gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Patrick McCourt from the right by-line, Andrew Hogg makes a save.

80:11

The assistant referee flags for offside against Michael Mifsud. Indirect free kick taken by Craig Cathcart.

79:12

Foul by Paul Fenech on Billy McKay, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Gareth McAuley.

78:34

The offside flag is raised against Will Grigg. Indirect free kick taken by Luke Dimech.

77:17

Free kick awarded for a foul by Gareth Sciberras on Patrick McCourt. Craig Cathcart takes the free kick.

74:52

Patrick McCourt takes a shot. Save by Andrew Hogg. Corner taken right-footed by Steven Davis, save made by Andrew Hogg.

71:49

Outswinging corner taken by Edward Herrera, clearance made by Aaron Hughes.

71:17 Substitution

Substitution Patrick McCourt comes on in place of Alex Bruce.

69:40

Andrew Cohen sends in a cross, Michael Mifsud has an effort at goal. Alan Mannus makes a save. Michael Mifsud takes a shot. Alan Mannus makes a save. Short corner worked by Edward Herrera.

68:10

Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Steven Davis, save by Andrew Hogg.

65:32

Foul by Billy McKay on Clayton Failla, free kick awarded. Andrew Hogg takes the free kick.

64:42

Aaron Hughes gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Paul Fenech. Free kick crossed left-footed by Clayton Failla.

62:12 Substitution

Substitution Billy McKay replaces Shane Ferguson.

61:06

Shane Ferguson has a shot on goal from outside the box which misses right.

59:51

Niall McGinn delivers the ball.

58:38

Centre by Shane Ferguson, clearance made by Luke Dimech.

58:11

Andre Schembri gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Danny Lafferty. Direct free kick taken by Alex Bruce.

57:52

Andrew Cohen fouled by Steven Davis, the ref awards a free kick. Andrew Cohen restarts play with the free kick.

57:09

The ball is crossed by Andrew Cohen. Edward Herrera is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Indirect free kick taken by Alan Mannus.

55:18

Michael Mifsud takes a shot. Alan Mannus makes a save.

54:06

Centre by Niall McGinn, save by Andrew Hogg.

51:56

Michael Mifsud is caught offside. Indirect free kick taken by Alan Mannus.

48:20

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Danny Lafferty by Edward Herrera. Alan Mannus takes the free kick.

45:51

Michael Mifsud handles the ball and concedes a free kick. Free kick taken by Alan Mannus.

45:01

The match restarts for the second half.

45:01 Substitution

Substitution Ryan Camilleri is brought on as a substitute for Andrei Agius.

45:01 Substitution

Substitution Craig Cathcart comes on in place of Jonny Evans.

45:00 +1:56 Half time

Half Time The whistle is blown to end the first half.

42:54

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Andrew Cohen by Chris Brunt. Clayton Failla produces a shot on goal direct from the free kick, save by Alan Mannus.

41:26

Michael Mifsud takes a shot. Jonny Evans gets a block in. Andre Schembri is caught offside. Jonny Evans takes the indirect free kick.

40:25

A cross is delivered by Steven Davis, clearance by Luke Dimech.

37:49

Long range effort by Clayton Failla goes harmlessly over the crossbar.

35:46

Steven Davis delivers the ball, Headed effort on goal by Alex Bruce from inside the penalty box misses to the right of the target.

33:38

Andrew Cohen crosses the ball.

32:48

A cross is delivered by Danny Lafferty.

31:45

Gareth Sciberras challenges Niall McGinn unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Gareth McAuley.

29:59

Andre Schembri fouled by Jonny Evans, the ref awards a free kick. Clayton Failla produces a strike on goal direct from the free kick.

27:47

Edward Herrera crosses the ball, Alan Mannus makes a save.

27:29

Edward Herrera decides to take the corner short.

25:23

Corner taken right-footed by Clayton Failla from the right by-line, Handball by Andrei Agius. Alan Mannus takes the direct free kick.

23:15

Alex Bruce challenges Andrew Cohen unfairly and gives away a free kick. Andrew Cohen takes the direct free kick. Michael Mifsud takes a shot. Blocked by Jonny Evans. Andre Schembri produces a right-footed shot from inside the area that clears the crossbar.

20:30

Steven Davis challenges Andre Schembri unfairly and gives away a free kick. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Andrew Cohen, Jonny Evans manages to make a clearance.

19:56

Foul by Niall McGinn on Andrew Cohen, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Paul Fenech.

18:09

Free kick awarded for a foul by Niall McGinn on Gareth Sciberras. Paul Fenech restarts play with the free kick.

17:22

Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Chris Brunt played to the near post, Andrew Hogg fouled by Gareth McAuley, the ref awards a free kick. Andrew Hogg restarts play with the free kick.

16:47

Michael Mifsud concedes a free kick for a foul on Aaron Hughes. Free kick taken by Gareth McAuley.

13:40

The ball is crossed by Shane Ferguson, clearance made by Andrei Agius.

11:58

Shot from outside the box by Steven Davis misses to the left of the goal.

10:13

The assistant referee flags for offside against Niall McGinn. Free kick taken by Andrew Hogg.

6:02

Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Chris Brunt, Niall McGinn produces a volleyed right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.

5:17

Chris Brunt crosses the ball, clearance by Luke Dimech.

4:06

Andre Schembri takes a shot. Save by Alan Mannus.

2:55

The ball is crossed by Clayton Failla, Gareth McAuley manages to make a clearance.

0:00

The match gets underway.

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