Pete Sturgess’ squad end preparation for Euro qualifiers with hard fought victory over Wales
England 1-0 Wales
Sunday 17 March
By Matt Hardy
Stuart Cook’s first-half solo strike was the difference as England’s Futsal squad defeated a stubborn Welsh side 1-0 at the Point4 in Hereford on Sunday.
With eyes fixed firmly on the Main Round of European Championship qualifiers in Turkey at the end of the month, Pete Sturgess’ side put in a solid and controlling performance in front of the Hereford crowd.
Cook in particular was lively and influential, with only a fabulous performance from Welsh number one Daffydd Jones denying the Manchester captain from helping himself to three or four goals as England dominated possession for large parts of the encounter.
Jones epitomised his side’s resilience and defiance, with a string of fine saves denying not only Cook, but also keeping out Sam Murphy, Ian Parkes, Jason Kilbride and a late Alex Campana strike.
It was a very different approach for England, with Wales looking to defend well and use counter attacks to try and dent their host’s chances. In days gone by, this may have been a banana skin that caught Strugess’ Young Lions out.
They controlled the game from start to finish and only when England begin to probe and pressurise their visitors in the second period, did Welsh chances start to materialise, the best falling to Cardiff’s Dean Maynard who smashed wide of Curtis Holmes’ near post from a tight angle.
Though it wasn’t the free-flowing and flamboyant performance that would’ve wowed the on-looking crowd, it was an organised and well disciplined performance that epitomised the character that this young squad is developing.
With the trip to Turkey around the corner, the victory was important. Confidence is sky high in the camp as they await their toughest challenge yet.