Matt the Hatter sees off Belgium
Wednesday, 09 February, 2011
England reach the ICT Final with a 1-0 win over holders.
England C 1-0 Belgium
International Challenge Trophy Semi-Final
7.30pm, Wednesday 9 February
Kenilworth Road, Luton Town FC
Local-boy Matthew Barnes-Homer sent England past Belgium and into the Final of the International Challenge Trophy with the only goal of the game at Kenilworth Road.
The Luton Town striker was on target after just seven minutes to edge Paul Faiclough's team to victory and gain revenge over the current holders who beat the Three Lions in the Final two years ago.
England started the brighter of the two teams and put the visitors under pressure in the early stages, however, they were nearly made to pay for their positive opening as Belgium caught Fairclough’s men on the counter-attack. A stunning volley from Guillaume Francois forced a fine save from AFC Wimbledon’s Seb Brown.
England still managed to maintain their pressure though and opened the scoring in with fans favourite Barnes-Homer running through on goal and expertly clipping the ball over the outstretched Belgian goalkeeper.
It was an excellent finish from the Hatter, which delighted the Kenilworth Road crowd.
Barnes-Homer continued to link up with his Luton teammate Jake Howells on the right flank, forcing the Belgian defence into continuous fouls around the box. With all the pressure, England couldn’t find away to extend their lead with numerous free kicks being cleared away.
Brown, impressive in the England goal, kept the visitors at bay in the first half with a host of well held saves.
After the break England tried to build on their first half performance but were thwarted yet again by a dogged Belgium defence.
With 80 minutes on the clock Belgium made a triple substitution to try and force an equaliser but it was England who created the better chances.
Substitute Andy Mangan’s shot at point blank range was blocked and Man of the Match Jake Howells used some great trickery down the left wing but his cross wasn’t met at the far post.
It will be England though, who will be hoping to get their hand on the Trophy once again, after winning the Final in 2006.
Seb Brown (AFC Wimbledon), Sam Hatton (AFC Wimbledon) (Paul Bignot (Newport County) 70), Jamie Day (Rushden & Diamonds), Robert Atkinson (Grimsby Town), Steven Gregory (AFC Wimbledon), Michael Wylde (Tamworth), Amari Morgan-Smith (Luton Town) (Andy Mangan(Wrexham)74), Josh Simpson (Crawley Town), Matthew Barnes-Homer (Luton Town), Max Porter (Rushden & Diamonds), Jake Howells (Luton Town)
Goal Matthew Barnes-Homer, 7