Kenny Swain's side defeat Northern Ireland 2-0 in Victory Shield
Turgott 50, Fanimo 80+2
England U16 v Northern Ireland
Sky Sports Victory Shield
7.40pm, Thursday 5 November 2009
Deva Stadium, Chester City FC
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For the second Victory Shield match in succession, England produced a sound second-half performance to claim another three points as a goal apiece for Blair Turgott and Matthias Fanimo gave the Young Lions a 2-0 win over Northern Ireland at Deva Stadium.
Turgott received a through ball from Fanimo in the 50th minute and calmly lifted the ball over Conor Brennan for a debut goal. Another debutant, Raheem Sterling, fed Fanimo in injury time for the West Ham forward to coolly seal the win.
The visitors began the match in positive fashion forcing England into the concession of a couple of early free-kicks, the second of which was drilled through a crowd of bodies by Paul George but George Willis was alert to the danger in the England goal and Adam Jackson completed the clearance.
This was the first of three good chances in the opening moments as Kenny Swain's side built an attack down the right in the fourth minute. Nathan Redmond drove forward and slipped the ball through to Turgott who could only scuff his shot, under pressure from Ryan McLaughlin and Brennan was on hand to claw away. Almost immediately, Shay McCartan galloped down the left before cutting inside to test Willis with a swerving, dipping effort, but the Sheffield United stopper was equal to it and produced a confident save.
England won this fixture 6-0 last season but Kenny Swain conceded in his programme notes that he expected this encounter to be a lot tougher and he was proved correct. England were soon made aware that if they were to win the game they would have to overcome a very physical and competent Northern Ireland outfit.
The remainder of the first-half consisted of various half chances. Zak Ansah, England’s hero against Wales in October, had a header comfortably saved by Brennan and David Morgan fired two shots narrowly over the bar.
The Irish team were blessed with height but both sides were at their best when the ball was kept on the ground, though both defences appeared reluctant to be breached with England’s Callum McFadzean and Jackson and Northern Ireland’s Luke McCullough looking particularly stubborn.
Swain made two changes at the break with Sterling and Jack Barmby, son of Nick, getting their first taste of international football and the former almost created a dream debut for himself. Just five minutes into the second half, Sterling was found by Matthias Fanimo 20 yards from goal and he unleashed a rasping effort which Brennan expertly turned behind for a corner.
However, on 50 minutes Turgott did experience debut delight when he gave England the lead. Sterling picked the ball up on the inside right channel and bamboozled the Northern Ireland defence with a couple of quick step-overs. He laid the ball to Fanimo, whose clipped pass was latched onto by Turgott and he lifted the ball over Brennan and into the back of the net.
This match followed a similar pattern to England’s game against Wales, with the visiting side having the better of the opening 40 minutes before a couple of half-time substitutions came on to have an immediate impact for England.
Dessie Currie’s side were rattled by this goal and it took them another ten minutes to regain their composure. It was again left to Morgan to drive the Irish forward and he produced a third long distance shot which bounced wide. Luke Conlan followed suit moments later and as the visitors sought a route back into the game.
The second half was disrupted by a few injuries, notably to George and Shay Facey, but when the game got back underway, Fanimo again attempted to create another England goal, but his through ball was just out of Ansah’s reach. Shortly after, Northern Ireland skipper, McCullough, almost restored parity with a thunderous free-kick, but it had slightly too much height and fizzed just over Willis’ bar.
Northern Ireland rallied with a couple of free-kicks late on but England broke on the counter attack with Sterling the main threat. He slipped the ball square to Fanimo and the young Hammer found the corner of the net to wrap up the win.
England now face Scotland at Tynecastle on 26 November for a winner-takes-all encounter.
1 George Willis, 2 Shay Facey (16 Stephen Arthurworrey 67), 3 Callum McFadzean, 4 Elikem Amenku (14 Jack Barmby, 41), 5 Sam Magri (C), 6 Adam Jackson, 7 Nathan Redmond (18 Raheem Sterling, 41), 8 Nick Powell, 9 Zak Ansah (15 Adil Nabi, 71), 10 Matthias Fanimo, 11 Blair Turgott (17 Bradley Jordan, 62)
Substitutes not used 12 Robbie Cotton, 13 Jordan Pickford
Head Coach Kenny Swain
1 Conor Brennan, 2 Ryan McLaughlin, 3 Matthew Clarke, 4 Luke McCullough (C), 5 Joseph Jones, 6 Douglas Wilson (17 Aaron Rogan, 76), 7 Paul George, 8 David Morgan, 9 Shay McCartan, 10 Noel Lawless (16 Joshua Barton, 64), 11 Luke Conlan (15 Paul McElroy, 70)
Substitutes not used 12 Gareth Deane, 13 Shane McKinney, 14 Matthew Deighan, 18 Dominic Ball, 19 Conall McGrandles, 20 Thomas Healey
Manager Dessie Currie
Referee Paul Tierney
Assistant Referees Lee Metcalfe & Paul Marsden
Fourth Official Robert Madley