A decent second half display from England couldn't prevent a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Andorra in Bath.
England 2- 4 Andorra
Monday 29 October 2007 English Institute Of Sport, Bath
Click here for Match ScheduleEngland’s Futsal team were turned over by their Andorran counterparts on Monday evening, in the first of two friendly games at the English Institute Of Sport in Bath.
The learning curve continues for the Lions, who were trailing by 3-1 at half time but put in an improved second half performance for the game to end 4-2.
With a World Cup qualifying campaign on the horizon in February, the games are all about preparation for Graeme Dell and his team and the England team on show contained a mixture of experienced Futsal internationals and some younger players looking to improve and make a name for themselves in the game.
In front of a sizeable and enthusiastic crowd at the excellent facility situated at Bath University, England got off to the worst possible start when Andorra kicked-off and took the lead within the first minute through Diogenes Lino Baptista, with England not even having had any possession by that stage.
The visitors were using the ball well in the early stages as England came to terms with their ‘Pot Two’ opponents and after only six minutes of the game they added a second through Miguel Blazquez after breaking away when England lost possession on the half way line.
England began to work their way back into the game though and forced the Andorrans into a number of fouls, with the lively Sam Tucknott causing problems in particular with his quick feet and turns of pace.
After five fouls on England, the Lions were awarded a penalty and Marc Canham, a Team Bath player, struck comfortably home to make it 2-1 after 16 minutes.
England had a great chance to level two minutes later when another foul on Tucknott led to a penalty, but this time Andorran goalkeeper Alex Palau Barba blocked well to keep their lead in tact.
Andorra punished England for that miss too, as with less then a minute remaining in the first half, Blazquez netted his second to make it 3-1 at the break.
Six minutes into the second half, Andorra took the score to 4-1 through Jorge Dias Barbosa, a goal which was somewhat against the run of play as England had begun to exert more and more pressure on the visitors.
That pressure paid off with a goal in the 14th minute of the second half through Gloucester City's Alex Sykes, after a driven free kick from Canham rebounded back out to him in the area.
The goal resulted in England’s best spell of the game, as they piled more pressure on Andorra for the remaining five minutes with the visitors having to call a time-out with just over three minutes on the clock as they clung to their two goal lead.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for England on this occasion but Dell is hopeful that his players will have learned from the experience and will be able to give Andorra another good game on Tuesday evening when they meet again.
“I was pleased with the second half tonight,” he said.
“We weren’t so good in the first half, but we increased the pressure on them all over the pitch in the second half and were much improved.
“Some of the goals we conceded were disappointing but I was pleased with parts of our performance, even though that sounds strange after a 4-2 defeat.
“We had some of our experienced players back tonight, but we also had some younger lads playing their second or third games at international level and the likes of Sam Tucknott and Luke Ballinger did very well.”
England: Dean Thornton, Marc Canham, Jon Adams, Steve Perkins, Jimmy Elford, Nick Colley, Richard Follett, Steve Harrison, Sam Tucknott, Darren Budd, Eric Pudaloff, Luke Ballinger, Alex Sykes.
The second game with Andorra kicks-off at 5.30pm on Tuesday evening, at the English Institute Of Sport at Bath University.