Ricky Sbragia took charge of his first game in charge of the young Scots at Mourneview Park, as Northern Ireland hosted the first of the European Championship Under 21 qualifying campaign’s matches. Recent Hibernian signing, John McGinn, wore the captain’s armband, however he could only watch as Northern Ireland’s Seamus McCartan headed wide the first opportunity, only a matter of seconds into the contest. One man in great form, Ryan Fraser, was nominated for the Championship Player of the Month award, and it was easy to see why, as he let fly from a speculative distance in the sixth minute, although Kilmarnock's Connor Brennan in the opposition goal held strong.
The home side took advantage of the hectic start only two minutes later, an inviting ball into the box from left back Michael Duffy was tucked home by Mikhail Kennedy, not the start that Sbragia would have been hoping for. His players did not seem to have their confidence knocked off, as Fraser again teased the defence straight from kick off, and played it to Callum McFadzean, his deep cross was picked up on by Ryan Gauld, who was crowded out and failed to get his shot away. McGinn also had a great chance on 20 minutes, as he eluded the Northern Ireland defence, and let fly from 25 yards out, again, Brennan was there to deny him.
The unrelenting Scottish pressure proved to be too much on 33 minutes. Hibernian striker Jason Cummings picked up the ball from the halfway line, and flicked a pass over the top of the back four. Ryan Christie, recently signed by Celtic, proved too quick and decisive and fired a shot into the near post, levelling the scoreline in the process. Cummings nearly completed a first-half comeback on 44 minutes, Ryan Fraser again provided the cross, however last season’s Scottish Championship top scorer was unable to convert it into the back of the net.