Three on the spin for Pearce
Monday, 10 October, 2011
Stuart Pearce's side make it three wins from three in Norway.
Jamie Bradbury in Drammen
England Under-21s showed excellent character to earn a narrow 2-1 win over Group 8 rivals Norway in Drammen.
Two goals inside the opening seven minutes did the damage as Stuart Pearce’s side adjusted well in their first ever game on an artificial pitch.
The teams arrived at the Marienlyst Stadium both with two wins from two games, and neither had conceded so far. But goals from Craig Dawson and Jordan Henderson put England in control before Valon Berisha hit back midway through the half for Norway. But it wasn’t enough.
But luck hadn’t been with England before kick-off. Following three withdrawals through injury sustained in the game in Iceland on Friday, Pearce also lost Jack Rodwell during the build up in Norway and then Matthew Briggs in the warm-up.
But as soon as the game started, fortune immediately favoured the young Lions, featuring four first-time starters, including debuts from Peterborough’s Ryan Bennett and Blackburn’s Jason Lowe.
With just three minutes played, England were in front. Dawson, who scored a brace on his debut a month earlier, produced an almost carbon-copy heading home six yards out from Henri Lansbury’s corner.
It was even better four minutes later. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, fresh from Thursday’s hat-trick, crossed towards the far post where Ross Barkley was on hand to turn back across the goal. Captain Henderson was unmarked as he guided past Eirik Johansen.
When the hard-working Marvin Sordell lobbed an effort goalwards on 13 minutes, it came close to making it three, but Johansen was this time well-placed.
Meanwhile striker Marcus Pedersen was causing problems for England, but Dawson and defensive partner Bennett were doing well to keep him away from goal. Valon Berisha did have a go when he found space away from Baker, but he was a long way out and the ball rose over the bar.
However, on 23 minutes Berisha’s next opportunity was much better as England were caught out by a diagonal ball over Baker’s head towards the right-wing channel. The Villa man failed to clear the looping ball and Markus Henriksen nipped in before squaring to the unmarked Berisha. He tucked away neatly beyond Jack Butland and inside the far post.
Moments later, a clash of heads forced a bleeding Dawson off the pitch for treatment leaving England a man light for nearly ten minutes. Lowe dropped into the defence as Baker moved to the centre, but the home side sensed a weakness.
The Three Lions nervously held on preventing efforts from Pedersen and Nordtveit, the latter being cleared from the line by Baker. Fredrik Berge had the best chance to level just before the break but shot tamely straight at Butland.
When the game re-started Norway continued to search for the leveller, but Dawson in particular held firm, charging out to block a goal-bound Flamur Kastrati strike.
At the other end, Sordell was running largely as the lone figure, though support was coming from Lansbury, Henderson and Chamberlain. It meant that England chances were rare and often from distance with Lansbury trying twice, but both were off target.
With ten minutes on the clock, Norway should have equalised. Substitute Yann Erik De Lanlay raided down the right wing and pulled back for Pedersen. The strike let him down though, as he scuffed his effort and England cleared.
Lansbury looked to have sealed the win two minutes from time when Chamberlain beat Strandberg on the right and stroked the ball across the goal mouth. The West Ham man, sliding in, connected well but could do nothing but watch as the ball struck the underside of bar and bounced away to safety.
There was some last-ditch defending in stoppage time as England had ten-men back, but they held on to claim a vital away win a open up a three point lead at the top of Group 8.
12 Eirik Holmen Johansen, (GK) 2 Vegar Hedenstad, 4 Thomas Rogne (c), 5 Stefan Strandberg, 6 Håvard Nordtveit, 7 Harmet Singh (10 Torgeir Borven, 83) , 8 Markus Henriksen, 9 Flamur Kastrati (15 Anders Konradssen, 63), 13 Fredrik Semb Berge, 16 Valon Berisha, 17 Marcus Pedersen
Subs: 1 Anders Kristiansen (GK), 3 Jorgen Hammer, 11 Yann-Erik de Lanlay, 18 Remi Johansen, 19 Martin Linnes,
Coach: Per Joar Hansen
Goals: Berisha 23
Bookings: Kastrati 57
1 Jack Butland, 2 Adam Smith, 14 Nathan Baker (12 Jon Flanagan, 71), 4 Jason Lowe, 5 Ryan Bennett, 6 Craig Dawson, 7 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 8 Jordan Henderson (c), 9 Marvin Sordell (18 Jonjo Shelvey, 81), 10 Henri Lansbury, 11 Ross Barkley (17 Gary Gardner, 55)
Subs: 13 Ben Amos, 15 Joe Mattock, 16 Josh McEachran
Coach: Stuart Pearce
Goals: Dawson 3, Henderson 7
Referee: Halis Ozkahya (Turkey)