VIDEO: Lions lose out to single goal
Thursday, 19 May, 2011
Paul Fairclough's team narrowly beaten by Portugal in ICT Final.
By Matt Phillips at the Sixfields Stadium
Click here to watch video highlights of the game.
A moment of set piece magic gave Portugal their first International Challenge Trophy title and consigned England C to their second straight ICT Final defeat.
Luis Fernandes' curling freekick on 63 minutes cannoned against the post and fell sweetly for Johan Tavares who converted comfortably from six yards.
It was a case of deja vu for England C, who were beaten by the same scoreline against Belgium in the 2009 ICT Final.
Paul Fairclough's side had avenged that defeat in this year's Semi-Final in Luton, but Portugal proved to be a step too far for England on the night.
The non-League Lions had been hampered on two fronts with Fairclough losing the core of his squad to this weekend's Conference Play-Off Final between Luton Town and AFC Wimbledon while Portugal fielded their U23 youngsters from the upper reaches of their Super Liga including players who have represented their Under-21 team in the European Championship qualifiers.
The visitors started brightly and with good cause - Portugal senior team boss, Paulo Bento, was an interested spectator from the Sixfields director's box.
Portugal's trademark passing game was in full effect from the off and they seriously threatened England's goal on the 19 minute mark.
Periera's shot from the right side of the box was blocked by Preston Edwards in the England goal, Saleiro's immediate follow up was cleared off the line by Atkinson before Fernandes' shot ended up in the arms of the Ebbsfleet stopper.
After 36 minutes, Periera's cross from the by-line was met by Yannick at the far post but the Sporting Lisbon youngster could only toe-end the ball towards the waiting arms of Edwards.
Yannick's pace and control proved to be a thorn in the side of England all night and would have impressed Bento with his Nani-style play which earned the man of the match award.
After Fernandes had created Tavares' goal, the FC Pacos Ferreira winger almost got on the scoresheet himself when he hit a superb volley from the edge of the box after a sparkling run from Yannick on the right flank. But for all Portugal's domination, England almost took the Final into extra-time at the death.
Pushed into attack by Fairclough, Robert Atkinson powered his way through the Portugese backline and squared a ball to George Donnelly.
The Fleetwood striker, signed from Plymouth in January, had the goal at his mercy but his left foot shot dragged wide and England's chance was gone.
England C: 1. Preston Edwards, 2. Lee Vaughan, 3. Connor Franklin (12. Matthew Blair, 65), 4. Robert Atkinson, 5 Max Porter (c), 6. Michael Wilde (15. Josh Coulson, 73), 7. Andy Mangan, 8. Danny Rose (16. Jack Byrne, 81) 9. George Donnelly, 10. Josh Simpson (14. Reece Styche, 71), 11. Sean Clancy.
Sub not used: 13. Jonathan Hedge.
Portugal U23: 1. Hugo Ventura, 2. Joao Gongalves, 3. Daniel Carrico (c), 4. Johan Tavares, 5. Tiago Pinto (14. Andre Marques, 84), 6. Nuno Coelho, 7. Yannick Djalo (16. Fernando Rui Sampaio, 90), 8. Andre Castro Periera (18. Yazalde Pinto, 75), 9. Carlos Saleiro (15. Vitor Gomes Silva, 75), 10. Andre Santos, 11.Lewis Fernandes (17. Daniel Candeias, 84).
Subs not used: 12. Mario Felgueiras, 13. Ruben Fernandes.