By Ian Parker, PA
Bailey Peacock-Farrell deserved a big share of the credit for Northern Ireland’s crucial come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Kosovo on Saturday but still heard manager Ian Baraclough suggest he may need to leave Burnley this winter to keep his place in the side.
Late goalscorers Josh Magennis and Gavin Whyte took the headlines as Northern Ireland struck twice in the last 10 minutes at Windsor Park to finally end their winless Nations League record at the 15th attempt, a vital three points in the relegation fight as Cyprus later beat Greece.
But Magennis’ stoppage-time header would have been meaningless were it not for some crucial saves from Peacock-Farrell – who had denied Vedat Muriqi his second of the night moments before Whyte’s 82nd-minute equaliser.
“You don’t always get the glory but I think it was such a short time between the save and the goal I might sneak in there and get a little bit of credit,” Peacock-Farrell said.
“You take what you can, it’s just the life of a goalie, I don’t mind it.”
The 25-year-old then prevented Zymer Bytyqi putting Kosovo back in front, having already made a string of saves in the first half.
“My memory is horrendous straight after the game but certainly there were two key ones in the second half, we could have gone 2-0 down,” he said when asked about a busy night.
“To make that save at 1-0 and then the lads break quickly, it was amazing to get that goal in a matter of 30 seconds or whatever it was, perfect.”
Peacock-Farrell has been Northern Ireland’s number one since Michael O’Neill gave him his debut in 2018 and has not let them down in 34 appearances to date, but he came into this international window with his place in question as the only keeper in the squad not getting regular playing time at club level.
Conor Hazard has joined Finnish club HJK on loan from Celtic, while Luke Southwood is at Cheltenham on loan from Reading.
Peacock-Farrell spent last season with Sheffield Wednesday but is now back at Burnley and playing back-up to Aro Muric – the man who was in goal for Kosovo at Windsor Park.
“We have spoken about that,” Baraclough said after praising Peacock-Farrell’s display.
“I’ve spoken to Conor Hazard and to Luke Southwood. Bailey was the only one not playing. He knows he’s got competition, so obviously he’s keeping himself in shape. If the next (international) window is March, he’s got six months to get in the team or in January move on.”
Peacock-Farrell said in the Northern Ireland matchday programme he had received offers in the summer but had been told by new Burnley manager Vincent Kompany he was wanted at Turf Moor.
“There were a few clubs here and there interested in taking me on loan, but after talks with Burnley it was clear I was going to be staying there this season,” he said.
“With the change of manager and that kind of thing, it was up in the air a little bit and with lots of players going in and out they wanted me to stay and if they want that, that’s what happens and I am happy to do that and fight for my spot.”
The victory eased the pressure that had been building on Baraclough, who hopes the result can be a turning point.
“Every win means something, but a Nations League win, the first one we’ve managed, I’m really pleased with that,” he said.
“It gives us a platform to build on. We know we’re not the finished article, but we are still building, trying to bring in young players. Those players create a squad, a competitive squad and we need to keep building on that.”