Three Lions miss out on International Challenge Trophy.
International Challenge Trophy
Tuesday 19 May 2009
Kassam Stadium, Oxford United
England were beaten in the final of the International Challenge Trophy at Oxford's Kassam Stadium when they fell to a quality goal midway through the second half.
It came from Club Brugge's Brecht Capon, who took a pass from Vittorio Villano on the left edge of the area, turned sharply and then rifled a left-footed drive into the top right corner of the goal.
But it was somewhat harsh on Paul Fairclough's team. They had been the more direct side and looked unlucky not to get a penalty in the first half.
Substitute Liam Hearn had a good opportunity to equalise near the end, but seemed more intent on looking for a penalty than in trying to get a shot at goal ten yards out and right at the death Ishmael Welsh's scrambled shot was cleared off the line.
Belgium, who were fielding their full Under 21 side, were technically very good, and in willing runner Capon, who was on his own up front, had someone who constantly stretched England's defence.
England, who had reached the final by topping a group that included Finland, Wales and Italy, never really played with the fluency they would have hoped for.
Torrential rain just before kick-off meant the surface was greasy at the start and a number of players slipped in the opening 20 minutes.
They included Belgium goalkeeper Simon Mignolet when James Constable closed him down, but the keeper recovered just in time.
Stevenage duo Scott Laird and Joel Byrom both curled free-kicks narrowly wide from a few yards outside the area in the game's early stages.
Belgium, who operated with only Capon up front, tended to play on the break, and they had their moments.
It needed a last-ditch challenge from Darius Charles to prevent Capon netting when he raced through on goal and big centre half Bart Biemans flashed a header wide from a free-kick.
England keeper Adam Bartlett saved from Capon just before the break, while at the other end England had strong claims for a penalty turned down when Paul Clayton appeared to have his arm tugged on a run inside the box.
Russell Penn was close to breaking the deadlock on 59 minutes following an excellent blindside run to meet Scott Laird's left-wing cross. But the ball bounced awkwardly for him and he could only direct his diving header upwards for Mignolet to save on the goalline.
Capon's superbly-taken goal on 64 minutes momentarily knocked the stuffing out of the England players but they pulled themselves together to get on top in short spells, yet too often struggled to give the strikers enough to feed off, and too many times the home players were caught offside.
England C: Bartlett (unatt.); Densmore (Altrincham), Geohaghan (Kettering), Charles (Ebbsfleet), Laird (Stevenage) (Newton (Droylsden) 76); Penn (Kidderminster) (Welsh (Grays) 77), Wroe (Torquay Utd), Byrom (Stevenage) (Fleming (Wrexham) 56), Tomlin (Rushden); Constable (Oxford Utd), Clayton (Alfreton) (rHearn (Alfreton) 69).
Sub not used: Cronin (Ebbsfleet).
Belgium: Mignolet; Kitoko (Lella 85), Dachelet, Biemans (Kage 90), Cabeke; Villano, Kurns, Odjidja Ofoe, Nainggolan, Mujangi Bia; Capon (De Wilde 86).
Subs not used: Coppens, Van Gijseghem, Coppin.
Referee: Mark Whitby (Wales).