Friday, 06 July, 2012
Noel Blake happy with aspects of victory, but wants more improvement from his side.
By Nicholas Veevers in Estonia
Noel Blake saw his team edge to victory in Rakvere on Friday evening to put them in with a chance of progressing to the semi-final of the European Championship.
But U19s Head Coach Blake knows that his players still need to improve again in the next fixture when they face France on Monday afternoon.
Whilst the Young Lions scored two good goals against Serbia to win the game, there were aspects of the performance that Blake wants his players to sharpen up on after they were exploited by a fired-up and impressive Serbia outfit.
“I thought Serbia were very good today,” he said. “Especially after we scored, they had a good period in the game and our goalkeeper had to make some very good saves.
“But equally I thought we were very good as well, in a different way, and sometimes when you’re under a little bit of pressure you have to defend well and I thought we did that very well overall.
“I’m still disappointed that the opposition had too many strikes on goal, if I’m being honest, and that’s something that we need to improve on for the rest of the tournament.
“But Serbia are a very good side, and they can count themselves very unlucky not to have got a point out of this with the way they played and approached the game.”
Benik Afobe put England in front during the early stages, before Nathan Redmond’s sublime strike in the second half proved to be the winner and Blake felt it was a goal that deserved to win any game.
“I thought we played some really good football at times, which culminated in a terrific counter-attacking goal of the highest order, at any level,” he added.
“If you look at it, there was a terrific block defensively and then we’ve countered with some clever play between the front players and a great strike from the wide player. So I have to be pleased with that.
“You can never have a game plan to attack, attack, attack. Even if you look at the great sides, when they don’t have the ball, they have to defend whether it’s for two minutes, five minutes or ten minutes.
“It’s what you do when the change in the game comes, and you have to take your opportunities.”
Despite only needing a draw from Monday’s match in Tallinn, Blake plans to approach the game in a positive manner as he has done through both games in the Finals to date.
“We’ll still play in a positive manner and I’m sure at some stage the French will force us back and I’m sure at some stage we will force the French back,” he said.
“We played with two centre forwards and a wide player and then three in midfield today, but Serbia played very well and forced us to adjust our system at the end.
“With ten minutes to go, we changed it tactically because sometimes in football matches one system or formation doesn’t always take you through the game.
“It’s about whether you have the nous to recognise that and pay them a compliment to do something different and see the game through.
“I was delighted with the way we played overall, but that said, I’m still concerned about a few things going into that last game with France.”