Lions win their Four Nations opener by a single goal, but it could've been more if it wasn't for Gibraltar's goalkeeper.
Four Nations Tournament
Llanelian Road, Colwyn Bay FC
7pm, Tuesday 20 May 2008
England C got off to the perfect start in the Four Nations Tournament in north Wales on Tuesday evening, as a goal from Mitchell Cole sealed victory against a determined Gibraltar side at Llanelian Road.
It could have been a much more emphatic victory for the Three Lions, but they came across a team in spirited mood and with an in-form goalkeeper in Perez.
His performance was later likened to that of Poland's Jan Tomaszewski in the Wembley World Cup Qualifier of 1973 by England manager Paul Fairclough, but he had no answer to Cole's first half strike as the Stevenage Borough ace raced clear of the defence following a ball forward by debutant Chris McPhee before executing a perfect lob over Perez.
Chances continued to flow for England after that, but they just couldn't find a way through to increase their advantage.
However, the team kept their shape and patience and ran out as deserved winners in the end.
"It was a good performance," admitted Fairclough.
"We really could've been three or four goals ahead by half time, but their goalkeeper just had one of those days when he saved everything we threw at him.
"It really was like Tomaszewski, he was making uncoventional saves, saves he didn't know about and some great saves too.
"We stuck to our task though, didn't panic and we continued to create good chances.
"We would've liked to have won by more than 1-0 though, as you're always a little on edge."
Gibraltar were called into the Tournament for the first time to replace the Republic Of Ireland and Fairclough was impressed by their performance.
"The people of Gibraltar probably see themselves as more English than the English," he laughed.
"So this would have been a big game for them, but they were very euphoric, spirited and defended very well.
"For the first hour or so they had nine men behind the ball, but they suddenly threw caution to the wind and started attacking us and they caused a few problems too.
"If they are as energised in their other games as they were against us, they could certainly cause an upset."
England will now take on Scotland in Colwyn Bay on Thursday evening.
England C: Adam Bartlett (Blyth Spartans), Chris McPhee (Ebbsfleet United), John Brayford (Burton Albion), Michael Morrison (Cambridge United), Kevin Nicholson (Torquay United), Ben Harding, Lewis Chalmers (both Aldershot Town) (John Martin (Stevenage)), Russell Penn (Kidderminster Harriers) (Danny Gleeson (Cambridge United)), Andy Burgess(Rushden & Diamonds), Mitchell Cole (Shaun Harrad (Burton Albion)), Steve Morison (both Stevenage Borough) (John Shaw (Halifax Town)).
The full fixture list for the Four Nations Tournament is as follows:-
Tuesday 20 May 2008
Wales v Scotland – Belle Vue Park, Rhyl – Kick Off: 7pm
England v Gibraltar – Llanelian Road, Colwyn Bay – Kick Off: 7pm
Thursday 22 May 2008
Wales v Gibraltar – Belle Vue Park, Rhyl – Kick Off: 7pm
Scotland v England – Llanelian Road, Colwyn Bay – Kick Off: 7pm
Saturday 24 May 2008
England v Wales – Belle Vue Park, Rhyl – Kick Off: 2pm
Gibraltar v Scotland – Park Hall, Oswestry (TNS FC) – Kick Off: 2pm
Admission prices for the matches will be: Adults £3, Senior Citizens and Juveniles (Under 16) £1.