It was one win and one defeat for Futsal team against Denmark.
By Simon Walker
England v Denmark
25-26 May 2012
Last weekend saw an archetypal English fightback by the England Futsal team to defeat a strong and enterprising Danish team. England were surprisingly beaten 5-1 at home in the first of these two friendly international matches on Friday, before recovering to win handsomely in the second match 3-0.
The SportHouse in Barking, an outstanding new facility built as an Olympic training venue, hosted these two friendly international matches and this Olympic setting was a perfect backdrop for two entertaining Futsal games which was watched by appreciative crowds. England went into this weekend off the back of two strong victories against Switzerland in their last outing, and understandably the home team were confident. But it appeared that this confidence translated to complacency in the first match against Denmark.
Denmark are a strong, well organised outfit that were particularly hard to break-down, but England’s job was made more difficult by an opening period of sloppy passing and poor ball retention that Denmark capitalised upon with an early goal by Jorgensen.
In the second period, England began to assert their authority over the visitors, dominating possession and having twice the number of shots. But Pete Sturgess’ men rarely managed to unsettle or get through the Danish defensive line, with the majority of shots being long-range efforts. As England pressed in the second half, they failed to retain their defensive shape with Denmark counter-attacking particularly effectively, with Jensen and Jorgensen taking advantage of some poor defending to give Denmark a 3-0 lead.
On the run-of play, England were unfortunate to be in this position but only had themselves to blame after conceding three weak goals. The young English Lions began to awake, with the team playing at an intensity that had been lacking for much of the game. Passing was slicker, the movement was more dangerous and there was a greater sense of urgency.
The England flair players began to assert themselves, with Murphy and Cooke both creating good chances for themselves and others. Unfortunately, this intensity boiled over with England captain Luke Ballinger making an unnecessarily forceful challenge on Petersen from which he was lucky to escape with only a yellow card. Moments later, Ballinger spoiled his 50th appearance in an England shirt by picking up another yellow for a needless handball, and reducing England to four men.
This had all but scuppered England’s chances, and an excellent team goal by Ben Mortlock could not conceal the fact that it was too little too late. In the dying moments, as England played with a flying goalkeeper and searched in vain for a second goal, they squandered possession twice and offered two simple long-distance tap-ins for the Danish. Jorgensen got his hat-trick to cement the 5-1 victory, with the scoreline not telling the full-story of this game.
England knew that they had underperformed, and rebounded in the second game with a far more convincing performance that left no doubt who the stronger team over the two matches actually was. England focused on the basics of ensuring that their defensive shape was more solid, particularly when they pressed forward. Each of the England players were far less wasteful when in possession and their work-ethic was at a higher level than the night before. After the disappointment that they suffered the night before, it was admirable to see the same players galvanise themselves and put this set-back behind them.
From the outset, there was no doubt who was going to win this game. Denmark struggled to cope with England’s movement, although they resolutely kept their shape and made it difficult for the English to create good chances. However, Will Rooke finally gave England the lead two minutes before half-time which settled any lingering anxieties from the English players, and in the second half they played with greater assurance. Mortlock scored another fine goal to cap another excellent game, whilst Sturgess’ men missed half a dozen other good chances. With three minutes to go it was left to Dave Jennings on his second appearance to seal the game with a shot from distance that cannoned off the bar that the referee judged to have crossed the line.