The 1st UK event of Football Aid 2018 - the England Training Day at St George’s Park (SGP) - began at 09:30am with players meeting in the Main Hilton Reception. After a pre-event briefing, the players walked to the Football Centre, changed into their Training Kits, before tackling a thorough morning training session led by FA coaches on the 11-aside indoor pitch. After a healthy lunch in the England Team Restaurant the players changed into their official England kits and walked to the ‘Alan Shearer’ outdoor pitch to prepare for their main event, the 11-aside England International match. The players certainly put their well-honed skills to good use and the teams served up a hugely entertaining game, with the Home team coming out on top 5-2.
Date: Thursday 12th April 2018
Venue: St. George’s Park
England (Home) vs England (Away)
11 Aside Match Kick Off: 14:30 pm
Match Officials: Mark Mellor, Gavin Muge, Adrian Waters & Peter Hazel
With the morning training session complete, the players were ready to make full use of their finely tuned skills in our big afternoon England International, taking place on the ‘Alan Shearer’ outdoor pitch. The weather was overcast and cold for April, but the players took little notice and both teams started the game in great style, passing the ball quickly on the excellent playing surface.
The 1st chance came after only a few mins when the Away team’s Elliot Faulkner played a perfectly weighted pass through the Home defence that released his striker Wayne Batsford to run in on goal, the No 11 expertly chipped the advancing keeper, however his 1st time effort struck the inside of the post and ran along the line allowing Carl Rye to get back in and collect the ball.
The Home team responded and when Steven Halford was played in on goal by Darren Winnard the No 9 looked odds on to open the scoring, however Away keeper Matthew O’Regan raced out of goal to make a brilliant diving save. Winnard’s powerful runs from midfield were causing the Away team problems and he fashioned a couple of half chances in quick succession, however his 1st effort was well blocked and his 2nd was just too high.
However on 20mins the Home team got the goal their early pressure deserved and it was the impressive Winnard who was the creator. The No 6 drove forward and played an inch perfect through ball for Simon Buss to run onto and the striker made no mistake, chipping the ball past the keeper and into the far corner of the net (1-0).
The England Home team had their tails up and their winger Neil Philips was causing problems down the right side with his pace and skill. From his cutback Buss had another chance to test the Away keeper, however his effort was comfortably saved by O’Regan.
The Home side were creating chances now, but the Away team, wearing the all blue change kit, held firm in defence and with Steve Foreman showing some great skills in midfield they were still a danger on the break and with 30mins on the clock they hit back to level the game. No 8 Bal Singh played a clever ball inside the defence and when Carl Rye dived to collect the ball the Away No 17 Darren Fox nipped in ahead of the Home keeper to get his toe to the ball before being sent sprawling to the deck. Striker Wayne Batsford stepped up to take the penalty and his centrally placed kick just evaded the keeper’s attempted save (1-1).
However the Away side’s joy was to be short lived and the Home team were level within 2mins! A clever move down the right saw Phillips again in space and when the winger cut the ball back to Danny Cheng, the midfielder’s excellent 1st time shot from a tight angle arced over the head of the keeper and in off the far post (2-1).
Winnard and Philips continued to cause problems for the Away defence and between them they fashioned a couple of half chances, however they were snuffed out by the Blues defence and the 1st half ended with the Home team enjoying a narrow 1 goal advantage.
Half-Time: England (Home) 2 - 1 England (Away)
The Away team came out for the 2nd half in determined fashion and substitute Darren Fox quickly created an opportunity for his No 9 Brett Davids with a powerful run and clever through ball. Davids struck the ball well however Carl Rye was equal to the task and palmed the ball over the bar. Fox took the resulting corner and his pinpoint, arrowed cross was met by Steven Foreman and the No 10’s powerful header crashed in off the underside of the bar to level the scores with 55mins on the clock (2-2).
Both sides continued to press for openings, however defences were on top for the period after the equaliser. The Away team had a chance when Davids’ pass found Batsford racing in on goal, however the striker’s lob went narrowly wide of the target.
At the other end Winnard played Phillips in again down the right side, but the No 7’s shot was well saved by the impressive O’Regan and the follow up from Winnard was blocked. O’Regan was called into action again twice in quick succession and he was equal to the task again, punching the 1st effort away then tipping a fierce shot from Phillips over the bar!
The goal was coming though and on 83mins the England Home side got themselves back in front. Neil Philips played a slide rule pass for Scott Burrell to run onto and the fullback smashed his right foot shot past the despairing dive of O’Regan (3-2).
The Away side had fought hard to stay on level terms and were evidently disappointed to fall behind so late on and with only a few minutes to go the Home team put the game out of sight, with Neil Phillips’ excellent run and side-foot finish a fitting reward for his excellent performance on the day (4-2).
With 89mins on the clock there was to be yet more bad luck for the Away team when a harsh handball decision against the otherwise excellent Bob Thorpe handed the Home team a chance to increase their lead. Captain Jon Dixon stepped up to take the penalty and after being ordered to re-take his kick at the 2nd attempt he smashed the ball low and hard into the net to round off the scoring for the day (5-2).
The referee’s whistle blew a few seconds later, with the impressive England Home team running out comfortable winners in the end. However the Dark Blues had fought hard to stay in the game until the very end and could also be proud of their efforts.
A huge thanks again to all the staff at St George’s Park for making the day so special for our players and a special thanks to our coaches Lee, Chas and Idafe for their fantastic input throughout the day.
Full-Time: England (Home) 5 - 2 England (Away)
Man of the Match Home: Jon Dixon
Man of the Match Away: Bob Thorpe
Moment of the Match: Steve Foreman
Home Team: Carl Rye, Darren King, Daniel Baker, Jon Dixon (C), Paul Oconnor, Darren Winnard, Neil Phillips, Ross Toms, Steven Halford, Danny Cheng, Simon Buss, Scott Burrell, Edward Chadd
Away Team: Matthew O'Regan, Andrew Balmforth, David Heason, Colin Griffiths, Matt Porter, Elliot Faulkner, Matthew Fellows (C), Baljinder Singh, Brett Davids, Steven Foreman, Wayne Batsford, Robert Thorpe, Darren Fox
Match Report written by Simon Farnan
Official photographs are available to order from Matt Nuttall’s website here >> www.footballaidphotos.com. You can also contact Matt on Tel: 07793 818021 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you'd like to order a DVD of the match please contact – Chillpics' Shane Wilkinson, Freelance Cameraman & Photographer on Tel: 07901 590723 or E-mail: email@example.com
“Incredible day today training at St George’s Park in the morning and scoring for England on my debut in the 3 lions shirt in the afternoon game, at 42 it’s never too late to follow your dreams.”
Wayne Batsford - Away Team No.11
“My Second England Cap at St George’s Park. Great day, and a good shift put in too.”
Matthew O'Regan - Away Team No.1
“Just wanted to say how great the England training experience is. After missing out last year it made it all the better for this year round.”
Colin Griffiths – Away Team No.4
“Just to say a big thank you to all the Football Aid guys, the coaches (Chas, Idafe & Lee), paramedics and all the St George’s Park staff for making the day enjoyable once again. The morning coaching was less intense than last year which meant most of us didn`t use up as much energy. Please pass on my thanks to the coaches - I was honoured to get Man of the Match, especially after Matt had played so well in goal.“
Robert Thorpe - Away Team No.16
“Another great @FootballAid experience, and another Win at St Georges Park with the likes of @jon_dixon77 @winnard16 - 2 Wins - 10 goals scored, 2 goals conceded and even a goal finally ⚽⚽ Roll on 26th April for Rovers event!”
Danny Cheng - Home Team No.10
“Absolutely loved it. For me it was all about seeing St George’s Park and using the amazing facilities. The way the day was planned was superb, ran really well and yeah overall top class. Definitely interested in doing it again next year!”
Scott Burrell – Home Team No.16