Ireland’s Darren Randolph had a livelier night than he would have expected against Gibraltar on Saturday as Mick McCarthy’s men limped to a 1-0 win.
The Boys in Green will be looking to build upon their opening group D victory when familiar foes Georgia visit the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday evening.
The game was a testing one for McCarthy, with the plastic pitch and the howling wind causing havoc and leading to Ireland struggling to create many clear cut chances.
Randolph would have expected a quiet evening against the 194th ranked team in the world but he kept McCarthy’s side in the game thanks to a fine save early in the second half from a Roy Chipolina header.
The Middlesbrough man then began the move which ended in Ireland’s goal clipping a beautiful ball out to James McClean as he continued to prove he is one of McCarthy’s most important players.
“We knew it’d be a tough game, said Randolph speaking to the media following training on Monday.
“We were just happy enough to get away with the three points. I wasn’t expecting to be overly busy bit I knew that no matter who you play, any team, there’s always a chance that they’ll create something.
“We looked at their set-pieces and their long throws and they had the opportunity to put in some decent deliveries and create some chances. There’s always a chance the longer the game stays 0-0 but thankfully I was ready when required.”
The Georgian game, however, represents a different challenge for Ireland against a side that the Boys in Green have only narrowly defeated or drawn with in their last few encounters.
“It’s going to be a different test,” said Randolph of Tuesday’s game.
“Georgia might come to us and look to attack, we’ll have to see how they approach it tomorrow. They’re not a terrible team, they can make it difficult for anybody like they showed against Switzerland the other day. It’s a tough test for us.”
Defensively Ireland have looked relatively solid keeping three clean sheets in their last four games, with Randolph’s saves proving crucial in each game.
The Middlesbrough man has stiff competition for a starting berth with Kieren Westwood back involved in the squad and impressing at his club Sheffield Wednesday, but the 31-year old is arguably having one of the finest seasons of his career.
Randolph is currently sitting second in the Championship’s clean sheet rankings having kept opponents scoreless on 16 occasions, with Middlesbrough fifth in the division.