Massive win for England, as they take the Home Nations Cup.
Northern Ireland 1-10 England
Home Nations U18 Tournament
Thursday 8 April
Billy Neil Centre, Belfast
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England were in scintillating form by hitting ten against a plucky Northern Irish team who were no match for the rampant Three Lions.
Finally Head Coach Dennis Mortimer saw his team convert the numerous chances that they had been creating throughout this tournament and lay to rest the performance from Tuesday’s game against Scotland.
The game started with England on the attack and creating a number of early opportunities for Royce Greenidge, who narrowly shot wide on both occasions. Then in the 10th minute, England once again failed to attack the corner only for the Irish to capitalise and Crooks scored with a free header.
Unlike the previous game, the response was immediate. Tom Figg found George Simmons out wide on the left, he turned the defender and cut inside to finish with a curling shot into the top corner.
The confidence grew, with Greenidge scoring the second goal in the 21st minute. A Craig Allen free-kick found Leronne Plummer. who played a ball that allowed Greenidge to race clear of the defence and finish with aplomb.
On his debut, man of the match Ashley Davies began to link well with his colleagues and created the third goal. An Irish attack was broken up on the edge of the English box for Davies to surge through the midfield area and deliver a ball that allowed Plummer to coolly finish and score his first of the game and fourth in the tournament. The half time whistle came with England winning 3-1.
The second half saw the Young Lions play their most attacking and exciting football of the competition and in the 53rd minute, arguably the best goal was scored by Davies. Winning the ball on the edge of the box, Davies played a one-two with Simmons to finish superbly into the top corner.
Five minutes later he doubled his tally. After winning the ball on the halfway line, he played the ball out wide to Simmons who combined well with Greenidge to set Davies up for a rasping finish into the top corner.
Two minutes later, Figg scored his first international goal direct from a free kick, as his explosive shot hit the back of the net before the goalkeeper could react.
Mortimer was then able to make changes and gave Jake Marr, Kyle McDermott and Martyn Williams their representative caps but these players slipped easily into the system and England continued to attack. In the 67th minute, a Chris Dowhan inspired free-kick that had been practised on the training ground saw Figg once again strike from outside the box to smash it into the net.
Davies completed his hat-trick when he successfully converted a penalty after the NI goalkeeper was sent off for violent conduct, to make it 8-1 to England. The boys were not finished yet though, as Simmons scored his second after clever play between himself and Allen.
The scoring was completed in the 88th minute when Allen struck a terrific drive from a free kick that nestled nicely in the bottom corner.
After the game, Mortimer commented: “I am very pleased with how the players have positively reacted to the disappointing draw with Scotland on Tuesday and played some very exciting and free flowing football today.
"We had very little time to work with this squad and it has taken a number of games before the lads felt comfortable and confident and have knowledge of each other’s strengths. I am delighted the whole squad got the opportunity to play and I was very well supported by a terrific backroom staff. We only lost one player from this squad, so with a greater lead in time I am sure we can move forward and be even stronger next year.”
England: Patrick Gaskin (Marr 70), Connor Bibbey, Craig Allen, Mitchell Williams, Louis Wright (Martyn Williams 61), Tom Figg, Ashley Davies, Royce Greenidge (Kyle McDermott 65), Mathew Bryans, Leronne Plummer and George Simmons.