A stoppage-time howler from Wales goalkeeper Laura O’Sullivan gifted Northern Ireland a share of the spoils in Newport and put a dent in the hosts’ chances of qualifying for the Women’s 2021 European Championship in England.

A below-par Wales had fought back from a goal down to lead at Rodney Parade and looked set to scrape a barely-deserved win.

But O’Sullivan flapped at a floated free-kick in the fourth and final minute of time added on and allowed Northern Ireland captain Ashley Hutton to head into an empty net and earn the visitors a point.

It was no less then they deserved. Beaten 6-0 by group favourites Norway last week, they started superbly and took the lead in the 10th minute through Simone Magill.

Wales struggled to get going in front of a disappointingly small crowd but they were level before the break thanks to a deflected goal from Emma Jones.

And they survived a few nervy moments after the interval before taking the lead thanks to Kayleigh Green’s close-range header.

But the late drama means they are only one point above favourites Norway, who beat England in a friendly last night, after last week’s thumping 6-0 win in the Faroe Islands.

Northern Ireland broke the deadlock in the 10th minute when a corner was only half cleared by Rhiannon Roberts.

The loose ball was nodded back towards goal by Sarah McFadden and headed into the corner of the net by Magill inside the six-yard box.

Wales looked a little rattled. O’Sullivan almost let a long-distance effort from Rachel Furness slip through her fingers but she gathered the ball at the second attempt.

Their only effort in the opening exchanges was a wayward shot from Angharad James that sailed over the bar.

But they found themselves on level terms in slightly fortuitous circumstances in the 22nd minute.

James played a one-two with Kayleigh Green on the edge of the area before her shot hit Emma Jones’ back and the huge deflection completely wrong-footed Northern Irish goalkeeper Emma Higgins.

That goal halted the visitors’ momentum and Jayne Ludlow’s team enjoyed more of the ball in the latter stages of the first half.

But they created little, with captain Sophie Ingle wasting their best chance to forge ahead by heading wide.

And O’Sullivan was again tested by Magill in the final minute of the first half when the striker let fly from 25 yards and the Welsh goalkeeper got down well to keep it out.

South Wales Argus:

The second half started quietly with only Elise Hughes going close for Wales from the edge of the area.

But Northern Ireland should have restored their lead after a flowing move started and ended by Demi Vance in the 54th minute.

She spread the ball wide from the centre circle to Lauren Wade on the left flank and continued her run into the box to meet the perfectly judged cross only to see the ball bounce off her shin and over the bar from six yard out.

McFadden curled a shot wide as the Northern Irish continued to threaten an upset.

Ludlow threw on Megan Wynne for Jones in an attempt to change things and three minutes later, Wales were ahead for the first time.

The goal came courtesy of a perfect cross from the right by centre-back Roberts, which made it a simple task for Green to head home at the far post.

There was still time for Northern Ireland substitute Marissa Callaghan to hit the bar from 25 yards with O’Sullivan beaten.

But Ludlow’s team looked set to hold on for a vital three points before O’Sullivan’s shocker meant the night ended in misery for Wales.

Wales: O’Sullivan, Dykes, Evans, Ingle, Roberts, Hughes, E. Jones (Wynne, 66), James, K. Green, Harding, Ladd

Subs not used: Skinner, Clark, Ward, J. Green, Estcourt, Nolan, Woodham, Filbey, C. Jones, Powell

Referee: Ainara Andrea Acevedo

Attendance: 1,676

Argus star player: Roberts