Coach Kenny Swain speaks about the win against Wales and looks ahead to this month's trip to Scotland.
England U16s v Wales U16s
Sky Sports Victory Shield
7.45pm, Friday 2 November 2007
New Bucks Head Stadium, AFC Telford United
England U16 Coach Kenny Swain saw his side pick up their first win together as a new group on Friday evening and has now challenged his players to move ‘onwards and upwards’ from here.
Whilst results ultimately take a back seat to the development of the players at this level, Swain was delighted with the way his players performed at the New Bucks Head Stadium against Wales.
Two goals in a lively first half performance from skipper Jonjo Shelvey and striker José Baxter proved to be enough to set the Young Lions on the way to their first Victory Shield win of the season, with the competition set to conclude after the trip to Falkirk to play Scotland at the end of the month.
That will be a new experience in itself, as the squad will have to travel north of the border as a group and face playing a game not in front of a supportive home crowd.
“We’re looking forward to Scotland now,” admitted Swain, after the game.
“It will be a totally different experience for the players in itself, as it will be the first time we’ll travel away and play a game in a totally different atmosphere from tonight and at Blackpool.
“It’s a challenge for us, but they’ll be up for it I’m sure and it's onwards and upwards from here.
“As I’ve said before, it’s all part of their learning curve and development and that’s what we’re interested in at this early stage of their careers.”
The joy at picking up their first win together could be seen on the players’ faces as they left the pitch at full time, which was in contrast to the previous game with Northern Ireland, when a late equaliser from the Ulstermen saw England have to settle for a 2-2 draw.
“It was nice for the players to get a win in front of a home crowd like this,” added Swain.
“They were left a little flat after the Northern Ireland game, which was natural for them because of the nature of how it happened but they shouldn’t have been because we did a lot of good things in that game and that’s what we told them afterwards.
“To be fair to the lads, they started very, very well tonight.
“We could’ve had a few goals before we even got the first and on another night, the shots that have flown across the face of goal may have gone in.
“Against Northern Ireland, we were very stationery to start with, but that couldn’t be said tonight.
“It was a little tougher in the second half as Wales came out and were a little more adventurous, but we kept creating chances and we were a real goal threat which is what we want to see.
“In the first half against Northern Ireland, we didn’t offer that goal danger but we looked like we were going to score from the first whistle tonight and that’s what we like to see and encourage.”
Whilst the attacking play on show from the Young Lions pleased Swain and the 3610 strong crowd, he also paid tribute to the defensive side of the game as England’s back four and goalkeeper were rarely troubled during the 80 minutes.
“We closed the game out well and we kept a clean sheet which is all pleasing to see. We defended well right up until the final whistle.
“A lot of credit needs to go to the lads and also to Tony Parks and Noel Blake, who’ve worked very hard with them in training this week.
“It’s the first time we’ve had all of the full coaching staff with them and it’s gone well.”
England’s game with Scotland takes place at the Falkirk Stadium at 7.45pm on Thursday 29 November, with admission costing £5 for adults and £2 for U16s on the night.