Lawrie Sanchez, the Northern Ireland manager, has warned his players that their end of season tour will not resemble a Caribbean cruise.
Sanchez saw his 10-man side battle to a 1-1 draw with Barbados at the National Stadium after Mark Williams was sent offafter half an hour. David Healy saved the visitors from defeat when he struck a 71st-minute equaliser to cancel out Kenroy Skinner's first-half opener.
James Quinn had a headed goal ruled out for pushing while Healy hit the post with a penalty before making amends four minutes later. "We always knew that playing Barbados at home would be difficult," Sanchez said. "Home pride is at stake and they came out and played really hard. They played very good football in the first half."
Sanchez is aware his side will face more tough tests in St Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago.
"I really don't expect things to get any easier," he said. "Barbados was very competitive. We picked ourselves up in the second half and got a goal. I expect that St Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago will play very hard as well.
"Every team is trying to get the best possible preparation for their World Cup qualifiers so there are no easy games."
Northern Ireland travel to Basseterre next to play St Kitts and Nevis on Wednesday before heading to Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday, their final friendly before the first World Cup qualifier against Poland in September. Sanchez is looking to extend his side's unbeaten run which takes in yesterday's result, a win over Estonia and a draw with Serbia and Montenegro.
"I don't know a lot about St Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago but we are going there to try and win the games," he said. "The players are coming together nicely. I like what I am seeing but there is still a lot of work to be done. We hope to keep getting things right on this tour and I think these games will help to provide us with the necessary practice we need just before our qualifiers."
Goals: Skinner (40) 1-0; Healy (71) 1-1.
BARBADOS (4-4-2): Chase; Braithwaite, Parris, James, Burrowes; Hall, Forde, Lovell, Grosvenor; Skinner (Riley 65), Lucas. Substitutes not used: Howell, Boyce, Burgess, Hawkesworth, Goodridge,Neblett.
NORTHERN IRELAND (4-4-2): Taylor; Baird (Jones 67), Williams, Craigan, Capaldi (Elliott 67); Gillespie (Murdock 46), Johnson, Sonner (McVeigh 67), Mulryne (Smith 46); Quinn, Healy (Hamilton 80). Substitutes not used: Ingham, Whitley, Doherty.
Referee: N Brizan (Trinidad and Tobago).
Booked: Barbados: Lovell, Lucas, James. Sent off: Northern Ireland: Williams (30).
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