Alan Browne wasn’t taking too much consolation after Ireland’s defeat in Belgrade from the fact that he had played well and scored a goal. The 25-year-old was Ireland’s man of the match but was quick to point out that the most important thing by some distance was that match having been lost.
“I’d rather not score and get a result,” he said simply.
Browne not only scored Ireland’s opening goal but featured a couple of times in the build up to it and the Preston midfielder’s contribution overall was key to the best spells enjoyed by Stephen Kenny’s side over the course of the night.
Ultimately, though, the game was lost in the second half and like his manager, Browne believed that the referee’s decision not to award a penalty when Stefan Mitrovic brought Aaron Connolly down at 1-1 had deprived the visitors of the opportunity to bring something back home from Belgrade.
“We are obviously massively disappointed,” he said. “The bottom line is we need results. I think the performance was alright. A bit of naivety cost us on the night. You need to hold out until half-time at one-up and it’s a different game. And the second goal comes from a goal kick which was really disappointing. They were ruthless on the night. They punished us.
“As the gaffer mentioned before, though, there was a stonewall penalty not given. That changes the outcome of the game no matter what way you look at it. We feel hard done by but we won’t dwell on it. We have to get over it quickly. We have another big game coming up that we have to win.”
Browne felt that Ireland generally coped well despite the Serbs enjoying a lot of possession but when concentration levels did slip the hosts, he suggested, were focused enough themselves to make the most of it.
“They had a lot of the ball without creating opportunities,” he said. “But then they had a chance out of nothing and they took it really well. For our part, it was about staying switched on. You have to be aware of where your man is at all times. We would be disappointed with that and the other goals as well, but they were taken really well and you can’t take anything away from their attackers.”
Asked if the positives involved would generate confidence ahead of the Luxembourg game, Browne insisted that collective self-confidence had never been an issue around the group.
“It might have been questioned outside of our dressing room but we always believed in ourselves. We fought until the end here but it wasn’t to be. We’ve got to look at the goals we conceded and try to rectify the things that went wrong. But there are some positives to take from it and the boys worked their socks off which is all you can ever ask for.”