Kenny Swain felt the Young Lions put in their best display so far against Norway on Thursday evening.
England 0-0 Norway
The Nordic Tournament
Thursday 31 July 2008
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England U17s ended the group stages of the Nordic Tournament with a draw against Norway on Thursday evening, despite putting in what has been their best performance of the competition so far.
The Young Lions beat both Finland and Iceland by a single goal in their opening two matches of the competition and went into Thursday’s game knowing that a win would see them progress to the final of the competition, as Norway had also won their first two games.
However, England found themselves up against a resolute Norway team who were determined to just block out any attacks and settle for a draw and once the Lions were reduced to ten men following Billy Knott’s sending off early in the second half, it was always going to be tough to break them down.
The result didn’t dampen Coach Kenny Swain’s spirits though, as he felt the performance was as good as he’d seen from the players.
“We played exceptionally well in the first half. The game was almost entirely played in their half of the field but we came up against a team playing what was almost a 9-1 formation,” he revealed.
“We kept the ball well and consistently carved out a number of openings.
“We had opportunities to win the game comfortably and even though we didn’t win, it was our best performance so far.
“We kept another clean sheet, our third in this competition, and that is difficult to do at this level in a competition like this.”
Given the first-half performance by England, Swain felt that the sending off of Knott (pictured left) had a marked effect on the pattern of the game and considerably reduced the chances of the Young Lions breaking the deadlock.
The Chelsea youngster had been one of England’s better performers and had scored the winner against Finland in the opening game with a fine goal, so he proved to be a big loss against Norway.
“We lost Billy Knott early in the second half and if it was hard to break them down with eleven players, then it was even harder with ten and they were more than content to just sit there and take the draw,” added Swain.
“Billy got a second booking for a tackle early in the second half, but it was his first booking which was his misdemeanour, as he showed a bit of petulance in the first half to get booked.
“It’s a little blot in his copybook really, because he has probably been our most influential player in this tournament, but he’ll learn from it I’m sure.”England will now face Denmark in the third-fourth play-off in Kungshamn, kicking off at 12 noon on Saturday.
1 Ryan Allsop, 3 Jamie Reckord (12 Luke Garbutt, 72) 4 James Hurst (c), 5 Oliver Nicholas, 6 Tom Parkes, 8 Chuks Aneke, 9 Jacob Walcott (11 Jason Banton, 75) 10 Luke Freeman (7 Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, 68), 16 Connor Wickham, 17 Kieran Edwards (2 Keanu Marsh-Brown, 79) 18 Billy Knott. Substitutes not used:
13 Jak Alnwick, 14 Jesse Lingard, 15 Joe McCann.Norway:
1 Aslak Falch, 2 Torje Slettli, 3 Eivind Daniel Roed, 4 Krister Wemberg, 5 Alexander Hassum, 6 Christian Landu Landu, 8 Markus Henriksen, 9 Anders Neas (14 Haakon Farstadvoll, 40) 10 Orjan Hopen, 15 Mushaga Bakenga, 16 Fredrik Gulbrandsen (Ruben Gabrielsen, 47)Substitutes not used:
7 Even P Johansen, 11 Espen Standal, 12 Eirik H Johansen, 17 Thomas Drage, 18 Etzaz Hussain.Attendance: