Colley’s 50th cap the icing for England on impressive Hereford showing.
By Matt Hardy
England 3-1 Switzerland
England 4-1 Switzerland
Nick Colley marked his 50th England cap with a goal and arguably a man of the match performance as Peter Sturgess’ Three Lions rounded off an impressive weekend in Hereford with two victories over Switzerland.
The Team United stalwart was fantastic in Saturday’s second showing at thePoint4, where England ran out comfortable 4-1 winners. That result followed a 3-1 triumph over the visitors on Friday evening, where England had also looked very convincing impressive the on-looking crowd.
Prior to Saturday’s game, Colley was presented with an England shirt signed by the squad in honour of the milestone he had reached. Colley dedicated the achievement to his parents, who were sat in the capacity crowd at the Arena.
Following his goal, Colley jumped the advertising hoardings to celebrate in front of his family on what was a very emotional occasion and credit has to be given to referee Tom Bramall for keeping his card in his pocket on what was a momentous occasion for the whole Colley family.
“Nick was certainly up for the game on Saturday”, England Manager Sturgess told me post game.
“You couldn’t have written a better script for him really, to play the way he did and to get on the scoresheet.
“It was a fantastic evening and a great performance from the whole team.”
Indeed, Saturday’s performance seemed to put right all of the shakes and faltering from Friday’s opener. Whilst England controlled much of the first game and walked away with an impressive looking victory, they were rigid at times and allowed the Swiss slightly too much freedom after taking the lead through Sam Murphy’s strike after just six minutes.
A series of fine saves from James Dalton kept the visitors at bay until the impressive Gulan equalised just two minutes before half time.
Following the break, England regained control of the match with Manchester’s Stuart Cook and England Captain Luke Ballinger looking lively as a number of half chances were created with the home side pushing for a second goal.
Nine minutes into the second period and Colley struck wide from a good opening before a lovely turn from Cook drew a foul as he was bearing down on the Swiss goal.
The second goal did eventually come from the feet of the impressive Jason Kilbride whose strike from distance was deflected past the Swiss goalkeeper to give England the breakthrough that they thoroughly deserved.
England rounded off the scoring three minutes later with a Will Rooke strike, finishing the move of the game at the far post to seal the home sides win.
Saturday’s game was a much different affair, played in a more competitive nature and as though it was more than just a friendly. From the first minute it was a much more fiery encounter than the Friday game and a number of bookings as well as a Swiss sending off were the only negatives to what was otherwise a fine game of Futsal.
England again started very brightly and after just five minutes, Team Bath’s hardworking Ian Parkes had given them the lead.
England controlled much of the first ten minutes but again, they seemed to lapse and Curtis Holmes in the England goal was forced into a number of quality and key saves to keep the score at just 1-0. He could do nothing about the equaliser on 14 minutes though as Gulan scored his second of the weekend.
England regrouped and despite an intense couple of minutes the scores remained all square into the half time break. Three minutes after the break and Ballinger’s industry paid off as he finished off a chance created by Cook.
Seven minutes later, Will Rooke’s second of the weekend increased England’s lead before Cook again turned provider for Colley to cap what was ultimately his day with a fitting end to a magnificent weekend for the England camp.
“Nick’s an emotional guy and it meant a lot for him to get his goal” his provider, Cook told me through Twitter.
“I’m disappointed I haven’t scored myself but two assists for the skipper (Ballinger) and Nick is great and I’m pleased to have played my part.”
England’s victories were impressive and built on what has been a good start to 2012. Sturgess and Michael Skubala now turn their attention to a Development Squad friendly with Wales in April, before the first team returns to action against Denmark on 25th and 26th May in London as they look to continue their impressive progress.