England 1-4 Netherlands
World Deaf Futsal Championship
Tuesday 13 November 2007
England saw their World Championship campaign brought to an end by a strong Netherlands team on Tuesday evening in their final group match in Sofia.
Peter Strugess’ men knew they had to win in order to secure a place in the final eight of the next phase, but the highly rated Dutch side proved too strong and a 4-1 reverse saw the Three Lions’ Championship dreams over.
It all started so well for England too, as they enjoyed plenty of early possession whilst restricting the Netherlands to their own half and both Daniel Hogan and Alistair Dalziel went close in the search for an early lead, only to see their efforts blocked by the Dutch goalkeeper.
England’s tempo and Futsal style caused difficulties for the group leaders, with Ben Lampert firing in a couple of testing shots whilst Rowan Dixon continued to inspire the team’s ball possession and restrict the Dutch’s chances in the first period.
England deservedly took the lead in the 21st minute when Hogan converted a penalty after Liam Coventry had seen his looping shot handled by a Holland player inside the area.
Unfortunately, England’s lead only lasted for a few minutes, as Holland equalised in the dying minutes of the first half, after loose marking from England.
At this point, England’s Daniel Holdsworth was introduced, having been unused for the previous two games, and he immediately saw his effort hit the corner of the post. That goal would have put the Three Lions ahead, but sadly it was Holland that enjoyed a quick concession of goals in a short period when some inspirational Futsal saw them fire ahead into a 4-1 lead.
That left England with a mountain to climb if they were to get the victory they needed to secure their place in the last eight.
England’s assistant coach, Jon Smith, introduced a power play style, which saw goalkeeper Sam Kitchin replaced by John Atkinson to give the outfield players more support whilst providing vital attacking power at the same time. Hogan, Dixon and Brian Green all went close with efforts on goal, but they were kept away by the keeper, before it was finally all over for the heart-broken players.
Captain Atkinson, speaking about his team’s performance, said: “Our fitness and pace today was on par with the Netherlands, but their years of Futsal experience had the strong advantage over us.
“It is naturally disappointing for me and the lads, as we did not come to Sofia to reach ninth place. We had outstanding performances in our preparations, with the Spain friendly match and our victory over Ipswich Wolves and we had the confidence to finish in the top eight.
“Now the scenario is not to happen, but we can now focus on aiming for the highest finish possible, and hold our heads high.”
Sturgess was also pleased with his team’s response, adding: “It was important that every player played to their potential and it was clear from the first half performance that each player was ready to give everything.
“Our overall play deserved a different final outcome, but each time we play one of the leading Futsal nations, we learn more and the gap closes”
England now face the next phrase of the Championship, fighting for a final position inbetween ninth and 16th place and they will face Turkey or Israel on Thursday in a bid to secure a high finish.
England: Sam Kitchin (GK), Daniel Holdsworth, Oliver Monksfield, Ben Lampert, Daniel Hogan, Liam Coventry, Brian Green, Rowan Dixon, Alistair Dalziel, John Atkinson
Not used: Steven Wynne (GK)
Suspended: Taljinder Singh