Peacock poised for Elite decider
Thursday, 31 March, 2011
Head Coach preparing for must-win game against Spain.
by Glenn Lavery
John Peacock has led his side to within one game of the UEFA European U17 Championship Finals and is now relishing a ‘winner-takes-all’ encounter against Spain on Thursday.
The England U17s followed up Saturday’s win over Northern Ireland with a 2-1 victory over Elite Qualifying Round hosts Belgium on Monday evening, meaning a victory over the Spanish would see them top Group 5 and book their place in Serbia for the Euro Finals in May.
In Geel, Didier Cabumi fired the Belgians ahead on 37 minutes but Crewe’s Nick Powell levelled matters just three minutes later and West Ham’s Blair Turgott came off the bench to seal the win.
“I’m very, very pleased,” Peacock said after the game.
“Belgium set about their task exactly how we expected them to. We worked on trying to press them early from the front and stop them from playing out and I thought we did it really well; the lads did exactly what I asked of them.
“We practically dominated the first half but it was the same story as Saturday in that we couldn’t take our chances.
“Then we gave the ball away in midfield and found ourselves 1-0 down again. But we’ve got a lot of character in this team and we came back strongly. Nick Powell equalised with a good goal and that gave us the platform to go out and win the game in the second half.
“I was absolutely delighted with the second goal from Blair and it was a good victory in the end.”
Both England and Spain have six points from their opening two qualifiers, but Spain’s goal difference means a draw on Thursday would be enough for them to top the group and take the solitary Finals place up for grabs. Put simply, however, if England win they are through to the Finals of a competition their predecessors won in Liechtenstein last season.
“First of all, I’m delighted to be going into the last game with a chance of winning the group, still,” Peacock admitted. “Our first objective was to get to that position by the end of the week.
“I didn’t for one minute think that we’d go into the final game against Spain and only need a draw to qualify. Spain are in that position but I can’t see them playing for a draw and it’s winner-takes-all on Thursday.
“We are two very, very good teams, but unfortunately one of us will not be going to the European Finals.
“We’re all looking forward to it.”