Patrick Kelly scored two goals for Northern Ireland U19s as they were held to a 2-2 draw with Slovenia in their latest 2022-23 UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualifier.
The Academy midfielder was one of three young Hammers in the Northern Ireland starting XI on Wednesday, with Kelly joined by forward Callum Marshall and defender Michael Forbes, who captained the side.
Kelly, who switched from Coleraine to the Irons in the summer, opened the scoring on 33 minutes, just moments after Marshall had tested goalkeeper Nejc Dermastija. Forbes’ header, from a corner, was cleared off the line but Kelly was in the right place to volley home.
The next opportunity produced the next goal and, again, the finish came from a corner-kick. Matty Carson was able to pick out Kelly’s near-post run, with the 17-year-old volleying in once again for his second.
Kelly came close to securing his hat-trick after the interval, playing a one-two with Marshall but seeing the driven strike come back off the woodwork.
Despite Northern Ireland’s lead, Slovenia continued to press and created chances. On 76 minutes, the lead was halved when defender Srdan Kuzmic turned past goalkeeper Josh Clarke.
And the visitors would hit Northern Ireland with a sucker punch as full-time neared when substitute Jaka Potocnik curled in a brilliant free-kick, levelling the match at 2-2.
Kelly, Marshall and Forbes are next in action on Saturday 24 September when they face the Netherlands.
Elsewhere, Divin Mubama was included in the starting XI for England U19s as the young Lions claimed a 2-0 win over Montenegro.
The Academy forward made his first start for his national side in this age group in Wednesday’s match, with England dominating the opening exchanges. Despite enjoying more possession and creating more chances, England were frustrated in the first-half and the score was level come the interval.
Mubama was substituted early in the second half and replaced by Manchester United’s Omari Forson.
England would go on to win the match as Luke Chambers opened the scoring on 62 minutes, latching onto George Hall’s flicked pass to power a low shot in, before former West Ham youngster Sonny Perkins wrapped up the victory with a left-footed effort.
Mubama and his international teammates are next in action on Saturday when they take on Georgia.