by Glenn Lavery
Thursday, 09 December, 2010
Victory Shield campaign to resume at Seaview this evening.
After an unprecedented barren spell of eight weeks, the England U16 team will tonight play just their second match in this season’s Sky Sports Victory Shield.
The annual round robin tournament between the four Home Nations should have concluded last Thursday, but two separate bouts of adverse weather put paid to the initial schedule. Torrential rain and a subsequent waterlogged pitch in Belfast in early November caused the postponement of England’s game with Northern Ireland, and last week’s heavy snow across the UK rendered the game against Scotland, at The Globe Arena, also unplayable. That game will now take place on Thursday 16 December.
Many parts of Northern Ireland may still be white with snow but the 4G pitch at Seaview, home of Irish Premiership side Crusaders FC, has come to the rescue and tonight’s game should finally go ahead.
"Unfortunately postponements are part and parcel of the game,” said England Head Coach Kenny Swain. “I found out about the Northern Ireland postponement as we were sitting down for our pre-match meal and it was deflating for everyone involved. But, again, this kind of thing happens in football and it’s something you have deal with.
“It has happened to the U16s before, with a game cancelled in Germany because of snow, so it’s something that you always have to consider when preparing and getting ready for games.
“Both times it was a massive disappointment to the players and the staff but it's important the players learn how to get over that disappointment.”
The Three Lions’ only Victory Shield game so far, way back in October, ended in a 4-0 defeat to Wales, but Swain refuses to get too downbeat by the scoreline.
“I’m certainly not going to judge those boys on just one performance,” he said. “It would be wrong to do so and certainly wouldn’t help in our aim of progressing players through the England age groups.
“The Victory Shield is a competition that we’ve done well in over the years but our overall aim is to ensure a good performance from the players, both individually and collectively and, despite the defeat, there were a lot of positives to take from the Wales game, certainly in the second half.”