Disappointment for Blake
Thursday, 12 July, 2012
England Coach lost for words after U19s semi-final defeat to Greece.
By Nicholas Veevers in Tallinn
England U19s Head Coach Noel Blake couldn’t hide his disappointment on Thursday evening, after seeing his side come unstuck at the hands of Greece in the semi-final of the European Championship.
The Young Lions lost to a late goal in extra-time in Tallinn, after dominating the majority of the match but just failing to make a crucial breakthrough against a stubborn ten-men.
Half-chances came and went and Greek substitute goalkeeper Sokratis Dioudis was in top form behind his rearguard to keep England at bay.
And when England were caught out for a slight lapse in concentration in the second period of extra-time, they were punished.
"I'm actually lost for words that we've lost the game, to be honest,” said Blake. "I thought we started really well and played some really good football but we didn’t threaten their goal enough for the amount of play that we had. As the game wore on, we had chances and very good ones, but goals change games."
And England had an important chance just before the break when Greek keeper Stefanos Kapino was sent off for a foul on Benik Afobe, but Rob Hall saw his kick saved by the replacement Dioudis.
"I didn't think it was a penalty and it certainly wasn't a sending off from the angle I had on the bench and obviously that gave us an opportunity to go 1-1 which we didn't take.
"But once our first goal went in, they put men behind the ball, which isn't a problem, it happens. I'm just disappointed that we've lost that and the way we lost it.
"In the final analysis, we needed to make the right decisions in the final third and that was a factor in us not winning the game.”
Blake was equally irked with some of the conduct shown on the pitch by Greece, particularly during the second half with some comical elements of play-acting and time wasting going on as they wore down the clock.
"We've got to be better and I do as well,” he admitted. "That's football, when you come up against that sort of mentality, you have to keep your cool.
"If a player's injured or a player has got cramp, I haven't got a problem with that but when you see a player go off the field, kick the hoarding and then roll back on and fall over, that annoys me.
"I don't like injustices, I believe I'm a fair person and I'm not taking anything away from the fact that they've won 2-1, but I think those sort of things don't have a place in the game.”
All in all though, Blake took stock of the season as a whole after taking his team unbeaten throughout the 12 games of the campaign and believes it’s has been a positive experience for all concerned.
"We've played quite well at times, and as the tournament has gone along we've got better and ironically that was our best performance,” he added.
"We came here with three objectives and we achieved two of them, first was to qualify for the World Cup and secondly was to get out of the group. We didn't quite make it to the Final, but as a year group we've done very well to reach the semi-final.”