Paul Fairclough's side defeat Estonia 1-0 in Tallinn.
Estonia 0-1 England C
International Challenge Trophy
2pm (BST) Tuesday 12 October, 2010 Kadriorg Stadium, Tallinn
By Mike Appleby in Tallinn
England C earned a hard fought 1-0 victory over the Estonian U23 side in Tallinn on Tuesday to secure the three points needed to top Group B and earn a place in the semi-finals of the International Challenge Trophy.
In a game played in a strong wind from start to finish, Paul Fairclough’s side were fairly comfortable winners and controlled the game throughout apart from a few minutes either side of the interval when Estonia pushed forward looking for the elusive goal which would have given them a chance to gain qualification themselves.
Fairclough handed a first cap to Tamworth’s Michael Wylde who was drafted into replace team captain Kyle McFadzean who pulled out of the trip following a hamstring injury picked up playing for Crawley Town the previous Saturday.
The game began at a brisk pace with both sides attempting to play the ball on the ground to counteract the strong wind. England almost took the lead on 18 minutes, when Max Porter sent Jake Howells scampering down the left. Howells cut inside his marker and shot across goal just in front of the in-rushing Charlie Henry who narrowly failed to make contact.
Henry and Howells were combining well and causing the home side a few problems as the half worn on. On 26 minutes, Henry pulled the ball back for Howells but the Luton Town player shot way over the top.
Estonia almost snatched a shock lead on 35 minutes, when a strong run down the right hand side by Veis saw Alliku stoop to meet his low cross and direct a header into the side netting. Two minutes later Alliku, who was looking dangerous, fired narrowly over from the edge of the box. The first half ended goal-less with the visitors edging it in terms of possession without being able to find an opening in front of goal.
The goal that England and their small band of loyal travelling supporters were looking for arrived on 52 minutes, when a cross from Henry was fumbled by Pedok in the home goal and a shot from Howells rebounded off Tanel Votti into the net. This was the opening that the red shirted England side had been looking for as they pushed forward looking for a killer second goal.
Wylde shot over on 66 minutes after good interplay by Henry and Newton and five minutes later, Porter saw his diving header turned around the post by Pedok following a good run and cross by Barnes-Homer.
The visitors should have made the game safe on 80 minutes as Charlie Henry forced his way down the right wing, cut inside and laid the ball back to Howells, whose shot was cleared off the line by Votti.
The home side almost snatched a late equaliser on 85 minutes when Peitre broke clear down the left and sent a strong shot across the England goal, where both Prosa and Dmitriev narrowly failed to make contact in front of goal to force the ball home. The final whistle was greeted with much joy and relief by the players and team staff as they realised that they were through to the last four in the competition.
After the game, Fairclough could not hide his delight at the result. “We came to do a job, to win the game and qualify for the next stage in this excellent competition," he said.
"This we have done. We have won the group against two very competitive sides. I can’t wait for the semi-finals next year. It is possible that we will have to face either Belgium or Italy and I will make a point of seeing the Group A decider in Italy next month” England
Brown (AFC Wimbledon), Hatton (AFC Wimbledon), Newton (AFC Telford United), Flint (Alfreton Town), Gregory (AFC Wimbledon), Wylde (Tamworth), Henry (Newport County), Porter (Rushden & Diamonds), Barnes-Homer (Luton Town – replaced by Wright(Kidderminster Harriers), Howells (Luton Town), Rodman (Tamworth – replaced by Nix (Mansfield Town)Subs not used
Gamble (Alfreton Town), Densmore (Altrincham), Rose (Newport County)