A game of two halves
Wednesday, 16 February, 2011
Kenny Swain left frustrated by 0-0 draw with Slovenia.
by Glenn Lavery
England U16 Head Coach Kenny Swain praised his players after they drew 0-0 with Slovenia, but said he was left frustrated by the lack of continuity in the second half.
Swain used this match to give eleven players their international debut, four of whom were introduced after the break.
“We played some really good stuff in the first half and could quite comfortably have been two or three goals up at half-time," he said. “We can take a lot of positives out of the first half, but both teams changed a lot of players in the second half and that, along with a high free-kick count, probably affected the flow of the game.
“The second half was a bit of a stop-start affair so we couldn’t get any rhythm going, but that is the danger in friendly games like these. In the first half we did well, but the second half was just a bit frustrating and I don’t think the players had enough opportunity to show what they were capable of. Having said that, we did restrict Slovenia to only one real chance, which they probably should have scored from, to be fair.”
Despite the second-half tribulations, Swain said he was happy with the way his players conducted themselves during the trip, both on and off the pitch, and he now has food for thought ahead of next month’s final two Victory Shield fixtures.
“The main aim of this match was to establish some kind of order to the squad,” he explained. “By the time the Northern Ireland and Scotland games have finished we will know better where we stand. We will have to change the squad for the Northern Ireland game and then change it again for the Scotland game because of school exams, but we knew that anyway.
“We have had a look at 39 players so far, which is probably more than we’ve ever seen at this stage of the season. So many players are coming into the squad and really staking their claim for a place in the next squad – both in matches and in training.
“In terms of achieving the objectives of this trip, it has been excellent," said Swain in summary. "The boys have showed focus and discipline. They have showed a really good attitude to preparation and training and brought that into the game. They have passed all those tests.
“It has been a first class experience," he continued. "They’ve all travelled well, got along really well with each other, they have trained well and showed a good attitude.
“In terms of where we are and what we are doing, we are still on track and we have got two more opportunities to look at the players which is good and we’ve got some more players coming into the frame now. It’s opened up the squad a bit.”