Tuesday, 02 October, 2012
Noel Blake felt his side deserved more than a point against Ukraine
By Nicholas Veevers
Noel Blake led his England U19s through to the Elite Round of Euro 2013, but admits that his side will need to improve on their finishing skills after seeing them finish their First Qualifying Round fixtures in Estonia with a draw against Ukraine.
The result was enough to see the Young Lions top their group of four and give them a good chance of a seeded position in December’s Elite Round draw, but after a decent team display, Blake believes his side should have won the match.
“For me, we deserved to win the game,” he admitted. “Purely from the first half performance, with the amount of chances we created and the situations we made. We had three or four one-on-one opportunities where their ‘keeper has made saves and we’ve hit the bar and the post. We should have been two or three goals up at half time.
“Our objective was to win the game, even though a draw would’ve been enough, and we played to win the match. We worked the ball into areas behind them and created good situations, but if you don’t finish your chances, you can find trouble and we did find trouble.
“If I was disappointed about anything though, it was our finishing and that’s something we’ll need to improve on.”
After seeing England spurn their opportunities to take the lead, when Ukraine took an 88th minute lead, it looked as though they may have had to settle for second place but Blake’s side bit back and Everton striker Hallam Hope levelled things up in stoppage time to ensure top spot.
“They had a good spell in the second half, but we defended very well and put our bodies on the line,” added Blake.
“The important thing when the opposition have a good spell is to make sure you stay in the game and we did that.
“Their goal came as a blow, but we showed our character after that. It was the first goal that we’d conceded in the tournament and the first time we’d been behind, but we came back and scored a terrific goal to equalise.”
The draw for the Elite Qualifying Round will take place at UEFA's Nyon headquarters on Wednesday 5 December 2012.