South East FYROM have sealed a place in the UEFA Regions' Cup intermediary round as preliminary round Group B winners after a tense goalless draw with chief rivals Eastern Region of Northern Ireland in Strumica.
Both sides had won their opening two preliminary round fixtures and though mini-tournament hosts South East FYROM knew they would advance with a draw because of their superior goal difference, they were pushed all the way. Paul Maquire and David Wright had efforts ruled out for offside while it took a goal-line clearance from Stojan Stojcevski to deny James Cully. However, the team from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia were not to be denied.
"I want to congratulate my players for their success; they gave their all," said South East FYROM coach Mite Mitev. "They have earned their place in the next round and I think they deserved it. They are a young team but they are a very talented group of footballers. I am very happy for them. This was the hardest of our games yet we were determined to get through."
The hosts had previously beaten North Wales 1-0 and then, crucially, put seven unanswered goals past Hestrafors; Eastern Region defeated the Swedish side 2-0 before a 2-1 triumph over their Welsh neighbours. The Northern Ireland outfit may yet progress as best runners-up, however, depending on what happens in Group A next week. North Wales and Hestrafors drew 1-1 in Monday's other game.
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