England 2-3 Slovakia
World Deaf Futsal Championship
Monday 12 November 2007
The Three Lions suffered a shock defeat in their third match of the World Championship on Monday evening, losing by the odd goal in five in Sofia.
Peter Sturgess’ men went into the game knowing that a win would rubber-stamp their passage into the next phase of the Championship, but in a pulsating game England were continually thwarted by last-ditch defending and inspirational goalkeeping in what is the penultimate group game before Tuesday’s clash with the Netherlands.
Despite two strikes from England’s Daniel Hogan, Slovakia held on to secure their first victory of the Championship and the result for England means anything less than a win against the Dutch would see their hopes of reaching the final eight of the Championship dashed.
It was Slovakia who started the game the brighter and they looked fast and furious with their Futsal style. Their opening spell paid off when a forward’s shot beat Kitchin from a tight angle.
An England time-out couldn’t prevent Slovakia’s early dominance and after the Three Lions lost focus, the opponents extended their lead to two goals, with the same striker grabbing another on a counter-attack.
England re-grouped and made a bold effort to apply more pressure on their opponents, but it was Slovakia who continued their attacking style of Futsal, which contributed to Taljinder Singh receiving an unfortunate booking after intercepting a counter-attack and that will see him miss the game on Tuesday.
Rowan Dixon was given a run out and looked threatening, seeing a powerful drive blocked by the Slovakian 'keeper at the near the post and then finding himself hauled back whilst clear on goal for a free kick, which was subsequently blocked.
The second half saw England continue to pepper the Slovakian goal with shots and Alistair Dalziel was unfortunate to see his shot tipped around the post for a corner.
England began to enjoy a period of sustained possession which also saw John Atkinson and Hogan go close, whilst Ben Lampert dazzled Slovakia’s defenders with his dribbling skills which eventually led to Slovakia committing five fouls and thus the potential of England securing penalties, should a further foul be committed.
Unfortunately though, Slovakia caught England out and made it 3-0 after slamming home a rebound shot.
England valiantly fought back and secured three penalties after Slovakia committed three further fouls, but those opportunities were squandered as Atkinson, Hogan and Dalziel all saw their penalties saved by the outstanding Slovakia 'keeper.
Hogan eventually reduced the arrears when he pulled in a low shot which finally beat the goalkeeper, before he added a second moments later with another penalty effort, but it was all too late.
Sturgess remained positive and upbeat after the match though, saying: “The players gave everything to win the game, but met a packed defence determined to hold on to an early 2-0 lead.
“We were high on passion and work rate, but low on good luck.”
England: Sam Kitchin (GK), Oliver Monksfield, Ben Lampert, Taljinder Singh, Daniel Hogan, Liam Coventry, Rowan Dixon, Alistair Dalziel, John Atkinson (c)
Players not used: Daniel Holdsworth, Brian Green, Steven Wynne (GK)
Remaining fixture: Netherlands – Tuesday 13 November 5:30pm (3:30pm GMT)