Alex Ewin and Nick Stavri were on target as the Southern Amateur League beat East of Scotland.
UEFA Regions' Cup Intermediary Round
Wednesday 29 October 2008
The Southern Amateur League, representing England, moved closer to the Finals of the UEFA Regions Cup with a comfortable 3-0 victory over the East of Scotland in their Intermediary Round Group 2 encounter in Alessandria.
Their victory coupled with the 2-2 draw between the Italian and Republic of Ireland sides has put Bob Leeds’ side within touching distance of being England’s first ever finalists.
Manager Leeds made two changes to the side that had battled so well against the Republic of Ireland’s Region I side on Monday with James Kerr and Nick Stavri replacing Michael Ayres and Mark Henry, the latter having picked up a knock against the Irish.
The game kicked off on a bright afternoon following almost 24 hours of rain and it was the Scots who had the first opportunity with Hamilton’s header from eight yards being saved by Dan Ashley. However, it was the English side that struck first after four minutes, when Nick Stavri crossed from the right for Alex Ewin to fire into the net from close range.
The English side continued to press with both Osman Okkaya and James Ayres going close. With the side being so dominant there was little surprise when they increased their lead on 22 minutes. The alert Stavri pounced on a loose ball and with the Scottish defenders appealing for offside, he burst forward and curled a shot past McGirr into the net much to the delight of his team-mates and the travelling support.
The second goal however seemed to become a burden to the team as they struggled in the final 20 minutes of the half to press home their advantage further and it was the Scottish side that finished stronger, although they failed to cause the impressive English defence any real problems.
The second half started quietly with the white shirted SAL side pushing forward looking for the third goal which would effectively kill the game, whilst at the same time being cautious not to allow the Scots a way back into the game, which they almost did when Nathan Violet cleared a powerful header from Henderson off the line in the 58th minute.
The decisive third goal finally arrived on 71 minutes when Ewin beat the Scottish offside trap to latch onto a through ball before rounding the keeping and netting from a tight angle. The final 20 minutes were played out without further incident and the final whistle was greeted with great delight by players and supporters alike.
Prior to the game, Leeds had asked for a strong team performance, a victory and second clean sheet and he got all three, stating that he had been delighted by the three goals.
“I thought that the team turned in a very professional performance,” he said.
“I was delighted for the lads on the pitch and for those that came in. This augurs well for the Group decider against Italy on Friday.
“We know that the Italy game will be tight. We have a great chance to progress in this competition and our destiny is now in our own hands.”The final Group match against the Italians will be in Alessandria on Friday at 2.30pm (local time).
Photos: Phil Mingo - www.ppauk.com