James Tomkins completed a dream week by netting two goals in the victory over Russia.
England 3-1 Russia
International U19 Friendly
Young Lion James Tomkins completed a dream week on Tuesday night after netting a brace to help England to victory against Russia following swiftly on from his full Premiership debut for West Ham United at the weekend.
7pm, Tuesday 25 March 2008
stadium:mk, Milton Keynes Dons FC
The central defender opened the scoring in Milton Keynes before adding a second to set Brian Eastick’s team on their way to a confidence boosting win ahead of May’s European Championship Elite Group Qualifiers in Belarus.
There England will face the hosts, Poland and Serbia as they bid to qualify for the U19 Championship Finals in the Czech Republic this summer, so to pick up a good win against Eastern European opposition such as Russia comes as a tremendous boost particularly given that Russia are amongst the seeded teams in the Elite qualifying stages.
England certainly enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession in the opening 15 minutes at stadium:mk, but had little to show for their territorial domination aside from an Andy Carroll shot which was drilled wide and an effort from Scott Sinclair which was saved well by Evgeny Pomazan.
In fact Russia’s best opportunity in the early stages had fallen just two minutes into the game, when they won a free kick on the right but after a brief scramble in the area, England cleared the danger.
The Young Lions took a deserved lead in the 19th minute though, when James Henry did superbly to beat two men on the left before chipping a cross to the far post for Tomkins, who firmly headed home the opener.
It could have been 2-0 in the 27th minute, when a free kick was awarded just outside the area for a foul on Jack Cork following his marauding run, but Sinclair’s effort went just over the bar.
Sinclair then saw an effort of his cleared off the goal-line in the 35th minute after more good work by Henry on the right to set him up.
At the other end, England gave possession away cheaply in the 43rd minute to allow Vitaly Polevikov a run at the defence but after he had worked his way into the area, Ed Upson slid in to make a fine block just as a shot was being lined up by the striker.
Russia made three substitutions at the break in a bid to get themselves back into the game, but the early impetus remained with the Young Lions and they really should have added a second goal when Henry’s 51st minute centre was glanced goalwards by Josh Walker only to drift past the post.
Shortly before the hour mark, the second goal did arrive and again it was Tomkins on the mark. A foul on Sinclair just on the edge of the Russian area saw another free-kick awarded and when Sone Aluko’s shot was well saved by substitute keeper Valery Polyakov, the ball fell out to Tomkins who smashed home the rebound and simply couldn’t hide his delight.
However, the two goal lead was only in tact for a matter of minutes as Russia reduced the deficit in the 61st minute, courtesy of a wonderful free-kick from Evgeny Pesegov who curled home a right footed shot into the top corner to give Jason Steele no chance of making a save.
Three minutes later and England had restored their two goal advantage, when Cork jinked his way into the area before cutting back the ball for Carroll who calmly slotted home from six yards out.
England made a string of substitutions in the last 15 minutes to give as many players time on the pitch and vital experience in what is the team’s final game before the trip to Belarus and it could have been 4-0 with just five minutes remaining. Henry and Cork linked up neatly on the right for the umpteenth before the former’s cross reached Tope Obadeyi in the centre, but he was always stretching and could only guide his shot over the bar.
That proved to be the final chance of the game, as England played out the remaining minutes to pick up another impressive victory and certainly deserved their applause at the final whistle from an impressive crowd at stadium:mk.
England: David Button (Jason Steele, 46) Curtis Obeng, Jack Cork, James Tomkins (Mark Beevers, 66) Ciaran Clark (c), Scott Sinclair (Fabian Delph, 78) Josh Walker, Andy Carroll (Tope Obadeyi, 75) Ed Upson (Junior Stanislas, 66) Sone Aluko, James Henry.
Goals: Tomkins 19, 59, Carroll 64
Russia: Evgeny Pomazan (Valery Polyakov, 46) Vladimir Drukovsky, Alan Alborov, Igor Klimov, Yan Bobrovsky, Dmitry Ryzhov (Roman Radelkin, 68) Igor Gorbatenko (Alexander Bebikh, 46) Andrey Ionov, Denis Voynov (Evgeny Pesegov, 27), Pavel Mochalin, Vitaly Polevikov (Alexander Stavpets, 46).
Goals: Pesegov 61
Referee: Steve Bratt