A last gasp equaliser meant England had to settle for a draw in their opening Victory Shield game.
England 2-2 Northern Ireland
England U16s v Northern Ireland U16s
England U16s were denied a perfect start to their Victory Shield campaign, as a last gasp equaliser rescued a draw for Northern Ireland in the competition opener on Thursday evening.
Sky Sports Victory Shield
7.45pm, Thursday 11 October 2007
The Young Lions looked all set for victory after goals from Jonjo Shelvey and Jason Banton had put them into a 2-1 lead with just three minutes of the game remaining.
It wasn’t to be though, as the Ulstermen showed their character to find a second equaliser in the game and deny Kenny Swain’s team a win in front of an enthusiastic and noisy crowd at Bloomfield Road, who were treated to an entertaining game and two teams determined to attack each other from the off.
The home side started brightly too and England’s first real attack came after just three minutes, when Emmanuel Frimpong broke from midfield on a powerful run by leaving two men in his wake before picking out Josh McEachran on the left. He crossed to the far post, but Northern Ireland managed to scramble clear the danger.
After 24 minutes, a free kick on the left from skipper Ryan Tunnicliffe picked out José Baxter in the area but he guided his header just over the bar.
England could have fallen behind moments after that when defender Shane Duffy climbed highest in the box to head goalwards. It looked a certain goal, but Sam Byles was well placed on the line to clear the danger.
The visitors went close again from the resulting loose ball with James Gray striking a low shot inches wide of the goal from the edge of the box.
At the other end, Baxter superbly controlled a high ball before turning well in the area and striking a left footed shot at goal. Unfortunately for him, goalkeeper Wayne Drummond got a crucial touch on the ball to deflect it over the bar.
England keeper Jed Steer had to be alert just after the half hour mark too, when Jamie Douglas unleashed a powerful snap-shot from 25 yards but the Norwich City stopper was equal to it and managed to beat away the effort to safety.
The Irish had another good opportunity in the 37th minute, when Liam Bagnall’s slide rule pass put Gray through on goal but he placed his shot wide of the target with Steer racing off his line to put him off.
England made two changes at the half time break and started the second half brightly, but Northern Ireland’s rearguard were still proving resolute and made it tougher for the Young Lions.
However, the breakthrough finally arrived just after the hour mark when Baxter’s low shot in the area cannoned off a post and back out to him on the touchline. The Everton striker looked up and drilled the ball back into the danger zone, where Shelvey was well placed to strike a volley home from six yards.
After 72 minutes, Ireland were handed a route back into the game when Frimpong tripped Douglas in the area for the referee award a penalty. Duffy stepped up and sent Steer the wrong way to level the scores.
England bounced back though and with just under five minutes to go, the ball was worked inside to substitute Banton who cleverly worked some space on the very edge of the box before drilling a low shot into the bottom corner, giving Drummond no chance.
It wasn’t to be enough though, as in added time England failed to clear a deep ball into the area and when it fell to substitute Cormac Burke, he smashed home an unstoppable shot from the edge of the area.
There could still have been a winner though, as Northern Ireland had to relay on a stunning double save from Drummond as he denied both Baxter and Shelvey at the death before it was Steer’s turn when he made a fine block to see Neil Dougan’s shot behind.
England will now be focusing on going one better and picking up three points in their next game in the competition, which is against Wales at the New Bucks Head Stadium in Telford next month.
England: 1 Jed Steer (Norwich City), 2 Sam Byles (Arsenal) (12 Eddie Oshodi (Watford), 58), 3 Tom Browne (Reading) (16 Keanu Marsh Brown (Fulham), 45) 4 Emmanuel Frimpong (Arsenal) (14 Bruno Pilatos (Middlesbrough), 76) 5 Angus Macdonald (Reading), 6 Ezekiel Fryers (Manchester United), 7 Jason Lampkin (Manchester United) (18 Jason Banton (Arsenal), 62) 8 Ryan Tunnicliffe (Manchester United), 9 José Baxter (Everton), 10 Jonjo Shelvey (Charlton Athletic), 11 Josh McEachran (Chelsea) (17 Jacob Walcott (Reading), 45)
Subs Not Used: 13 Adam Davies (Everton), 15 Liam Head (Plymouth Argyle).
Goals: Jonjo Shelvey 62, Jason Banton 80+2
Northern Ireland: 1 Wayne Drummond (Glentoran), 2 Matthew King (Linfield), 3 Dean Jarvis (Ballymoor FC), 4 Christopher Hegarty (Dungannon Swifts), 5 Shane Duffy (Foyle Harps), 6 Andrew Mitchell (Manchester City), 7 James Gray (Middlesbrough) (15 Cormac Burke (Trojans), 65) 8 Liam Bagnall (Glenavon) (17 Scott McCullough (Loughgall), 82) 9 Jamie Douglas (Dungannon Swifts), 10 Benny Quigg (Ballymena United), 11 Neil Dougan (Manchester City) (14 Aaron Burns (Linfield), 65)
Subs Not Used: 12 Andrew Dickey (Greenisland), 16 Patrick McEleney (Foyle Harps),18 Michael Smith (Ballymena United), 19 Robbie Hume (Foyle Harps), 20 Gary Workman (Linfield)
Goals: Shane Duffy, pen 73, Cormac Burke 80+4
Bookings: Shane Duffy (70 minutes)
Referee: Anthony Taylor