A late goal from substitute Andrew Forsythe ensured Northern Ireland's Eastern Region AMA began the finals with a win against French side Basse-Normandie AMA in sweltering conditions in Radnevo.
The Group A match had been littered with missed opportunities from both teams but Forsythe capitalised on a defensive mix-up to slot the ball into an open net and give the Northern Irish the perfect start to the UEFA Regions' Cup.
The first half was tightly contested with the Northern Irish side happy to soak up French pressure and hit them on the break. They had their keeper Ryan Brown to thank in the early exchanges as he spectacularly denied Pierre-Yves Marie's long-range effort before just doing enough to stop Jonathan Tendron who had escaped the clutches of his marker.
Eastern Region's best chance of the opening period fell to Mark Craig in the 12th minute. The livewire forward latched on to Ryan Murray's cleverly weighted pass but goalkeeper Jerome Mathurin reacted well to save the goalbound attempt with his feet. Basse-Normandie looked the stronger of the teams in the second half until Eastern Region's superior fitness eventually told with Forsythe's 82nd-minute winner putting them top of the group.
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