It’s been mixed fortunes for the England Blind squad over the last two days in Italy
By Gary Stonehouse
It’s been mixed fortunes for the England Blind squad over the last two days in Italy.
Graham Keeley’s team, who opened their European Championship campaign with defeat against Turkey on Saturday, were back in action against both Germany and the host nation.
The Germany game was barely two minutes old when a short pass from England was intercepted by a German attacker who made no mistake as he blasted the ball into the corner of the goal to break the deadlock.
Dan English looked to get his side right back in it, and he came close to equalising just minutes later as he surged forward and unleashed a drive that cannoned off the post. The match was proving to be hugely open as the action switched from one end to the other, but it was the introduction of Owen Bainbridge that brought about England’s chance to draw level.
Bainbridge received the ball and embarked on a barnstorming run which was only stopped by a foul from a German defender resulted in a penalty. Bainbridge screwed his spot-kick wide, but he received a chance to make amends shortly after and he made no mistake this time as he grabbed his first international goal.
The second half began scrappily, England amassing fouls against them, and they were punished when Germany regained the lead from an eight metre penalty. Both teams had further chances throughout the closing stages, but the Three Lions were unable to find a way through again as the Germans held on for victory.
After two opening defeats, Keeley’s squad then faced another tough challenge yesterday as they lined-up against Italy, but an inspired display saw pride restored to the squad, but not without an early scare.
The match was only eight minutes old when they found themselves behind, a six metre penalty being dispatched low into the England net.
Skipper Keryn Seal almost got England back level immediately, firing a fine drive straight towards the bottom corner of the net, but the Italian ‘keeper produced an excellent save low down to tip the ball around the post.
Despite trailing at the break, England had shown more than enough that they were capable of getting back into the game, and Dan English signalled their intentions to do so at the restart with a typically robust run and shot which just whistled wide of the target.
They didn’t have long to wait for a goal though as finally in the 12th minute they found their breakthrough, albeit thanks to a stroke of luck which had previously deserted them. Robin Williams picked up the ball an unleashed a strike goalwards, but his effort struck a defender, wrong-footing the goalkeeper who had already committed himself, and sailed inside the opposite corner to even the score.
Sensing victory, England continued to press and they turned the game on its head with a quick-fire double. Darren Harris fired them into the lead in the 21st minute before English was able to put the icing on the cake just two minutes later, firing home an eight metre penalty to give his side a 3-1 victory.
After three games in three days, the Three Lions have a rest day before facing Russia tomorrow in the first of their play-off games which decide each individual nation’s overall tournament finish.