The day began at 09:30am with the players changing into their training kits and launching into an energetic training session in the state of the art Football Centre. After a healthy lunch the players donned their official England kits to prepare for their main event, the 11-aside England International match. In the end it was the Away team who made the most of their finely honed skills, edging a close encounter 3-0.
Date: Thursday 18th April
Venue: St George’s Park
England (Home) vs England (Away)
Kick Off: 14:30 pm
Match Officials: Gavin Muge, John Fearns, James Reeder & Andy Stevens
In the exclusive environs of the England national team training base, a Home side sporting white shirts and blue shorts lined up to take on an Away side wearing red shirts and white shorts.
The Home side forced the early tempo of the game with Wayne Batsford drawing Away GK, Daniel Lloyd into an early save. A fingertip dive denied Batsford from opening the scoring. Mark Rogers then managed to try his luck, eventually connecting with the corner but his effort was comfortably collected by Lloyd.
Chances for the Away side seemed few and far between early on with the only notable effort being a cross cleared off the line. At the opposite end, the Home side continued to pour pressure onto the Away defence. Andrew Balmforth tried his luck from range forcing a free kick to be tipped over the cross bar.
The Away side then had a golden opportunity to take the lead as Darren Winnard crashed an effort off the crossbar. Sliding in towards an open goal, Winnard connected with a low cross, unmarked from a few yards out only to see the woodwork rattle and hear the gasps from the on-watching crowd. It may be a commonly thrown around phrase, but it looked easier to score than miss…. luckily to save the blushes of the attacker, the linesman raised his flag for offside in the build-up.
Set pieces were proving a dangerous affair for the Away side as the Home team looked most likely to score from free kicks and corners. A short free kick routine looked promising, but the onrushing Away defenders were too fast and cut out any chance.
The ‘visitors’ were growing into the game and had a golden chance when David Heason went one-on-one with the Home goalkeeper. An opportunity to square the ball across the box to an unmarked man was spurned as Heason looked for glory, but it was Matthew O’Regan in the Home net who provided heroics. A brave save kept the score line at 0-0.
The deadlock was broken on the half hour mark in inexcusable fashion for the Home team. The defence and goalkeeper tried to play ‘fancy’ around the back, but it proved to be a vital mistake. O’Regan was caught in possession, putting the defence in real trouble. A pass from a defender was directed to the attacking left, but with the goalkeeper in no-man’s land, Darren Winnard produced the goods with a brilliantly executed cross-cum-shot to open the scoring and put the Away side ahead. Robert Thorpe managed to back track to try and rectify the situation but could only help direct the ball into his own net. A defensive shambles from England that only the Scottish guys from Football Aid on the side-lines could be happy about…. (0-1)
The momentum was now with the Away side as Home heads dropped. Winnard hit the post as he was played into space but could only watch his low shot tipped on to the woodwork. Oliver Banks then had a chance to extend the lead before the break as he found himself unmarked in the box. An enticing cross was perfectly weighted for the on running, unmarked attacker but his header could only loop wide of the mark.
In what looked to be a competitive half with both sides having chances, it was the Away side who came out on top at the half-way stage. A calamity at the back from the Home side gave them work to do in the second half as they found themselves down a goal to nil at the break.
Half-Time: England (Home) 0 - 1 England (Away)
Although the Home side were needing to chase the game in the second half, it was the Away side that started the faster. The ever dangerous Winnard broke through the shaky back line but his one-on-one chance was thwarted by Home goalkeeper O’Regan, who closed the angle and smothered the ball preventing a squaring opportunity.
The Away team continued to pile on the pressure and the partnership of David Heason and Darren Winnard was proving vital to their success. Heason was the latest to test the ‘keeper but his effort was saved before Winnard fired the rebound over the bar.
Oliver Banks, wearing number 8, was given too much space in the Away midfield and had time to set and take an attempt from long range. However, his shot was wide of the mark.
At the opposite end, Home centre forward, Matt Porter had a rare chance, forcing a low save from Away GK, Lloyd. His effort on the turn was tipped away but the Home team appealed for a penalty after a trip in the build-up, no interest from the officials though.
The momentum returned to the Away team with Michael Wrigley firing over from long range.
However, the team in Red were not to be denied for long and on 70 minutes, the Away side doubled their lead with David Heason netting a deserving goal. Midfielder Nick Braund was causing trouble down the right and after clever play he unselfishly played in Heason who took a touch before prodding his effort home. (0-2)
The same two players combined moments after the restart but Heason could only dink an effort high and wide of the mark, the exertions of the day were starting to show for both sides. After a half dotted with injury woes, Braund had a chance to see his name in lights but could only watch the ball as it went narrowly wide after having the chance to tap home with the net gaping.
David Heason was growing into the game and he bagged his second goal with 85 minutes played. He was again played through by Braund. Heason produced a delicate chip from 30 yards to remove the onrushing goalie out of the equation. The Away team had a three-goal lead with Heason celebrating in an unconventional manner…hugging the opposition players! (0-3)
With a three-goal advantage and fitness becoming an issue, the Away side dropped into defensive mode. The Home side reverted to an all-out attack mindset for the closing stages, but despite their efforts the only chance fell to the visitors. Braund saw his effort cannon off the crossbar….the winger was simply out of luck! It had been an impressive performance but there was to be no goal to show for his efforts.
The Away side’s defensive tactics in the closing moments paid off and they were able to see out the game with a 3-0 advantage and a clean sheet. Impressive forward play and control of the midfield handed the Reds an impressive win on a windy day in the Midlands.
All in all it had been a great experience for our players behind the scenes at the Home of English Football.
Full-Time: England (Home) 0 - 3 England (Away)
Man of the Match Home: Jon Dixon
Man of the Match Away: Darren Winnard
Moment of the Match: Matthew O'Regan
Home Team: Matthew O'Regan, Mark Rogers, Andrew Balmforth, Kristien Harrison, Robert Thorpe, Jon Dixon, Wayne Batsford, Neil Phillips, Matt Porter, Danny Cheng, Mustapha Pour dara (C), Kireth Kalirai, Simon Buss
Away Team: Daniel Lloyd, Noel Burke, Michael Wrigley, Chris Rogerson, John Wrigley, Ben Baird, Nick Braund, Oliver Banks, David Heason, Ben Alnutt, Darren Winnard (C), Paul Old, Kevin Banks
Match Report written by Ben Waite.
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