Goals from Benik Afobe and Connor Wickham clinch the Victory Shield for England at Sincil Bank.
England 2-0 Scotland
Sky Sports Victory Shield
7.40pm, Friday 28 November 2008
Sincil Bank, Lincoln City FC
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Goals from Benik Afobe and Connor Wickham ensured England won the Victory Shield for the eighth successive season.
After just eleven minutes at a foggy Sincil Bank, Afobe arrived at the near post to meet an Aziz Deen-Conteh corner and, arching his neck, he guided the ball beyond Robert Thomson in the Scotland goal to give England the lead.
It was Afobe’s fourth goal in this Victory Shield campaign, adding to his brace against Northern Ireland in the opening match and his late winner against Wales in Llanelli.
Wickham, who looked bright throughout, grabbed England’s second goal just three minutes into the second half.
Substitute Andre Wisdom showed a quick turn of pace to burst past three Scottish players and into the box. While his shot was parried by Thomson, it fell kindly for the Ipswich Town forward and he had the easiest of tasks to double England’s lead from five yards out. This put The Three Lions in a commanding position, from which they never looked in danger.
England were deserved winners having fashioned the clearer chances and dominated possession for large spells of the game. Kenny Swain's side showed a maturity that belied their years as they put missed opportunities behind them and they held on comfortably to maintain England's stranglehold on this schoolboy competition.
In an entertaining first 40 minutes, it was the hosts who threatened first. After just six minutes, a hopeful ball down the centre by Tom Thorpe found the advancing Bruno Pilatos in space on the inside right channel. His threaded pass sought out Afobe, but the ball had slightly too much pace on it and Thomson gratefully gathered.
Deen-Conteh then floated a corner in from the right-hand side and Ross Barkley’s powerful header was cleared off the line by Dylan McGeogh. From the resulting corner, Afobe gave England the lead.
Scotland almost responded immediately. The skipper, Fraser Fyvie, found a yard of space in the England box, but his effort zipped above Sam Johnstone’s goal.
Goalscorer Wickham had three opportunities to extend England’s lead before the 20 minute mark. He was firstly unable to steer home a Deen-Conteh cross, then his shot-on-the-turn flashed just wide before his clearest chance arose. Latching on to a Barkley through ball, his stinging drive was brilliantly repelled by Thomson at his near post.
Fyvie missed a gilt-edged opportunity to level the scores soon after. A Callum McGreggor cross was not properly cleared by the England backline and the ball dropped invitingly for Fyvie barely ten yards out. Attempting to side foot the ball into the far corner, he will have been disappointed to see his effort fly over the bar.
On the half hour mark, Barkley began another foray towards the Scotland goal and his neat pass created another chance for Afobe to double both his own tally and England’s lead. He took one touch to control the ball but this allowed Thomson an extra second to narrow the angle and he produced another smart save at his near post.
After the restart, both sets of substitutes attempted to make an impact and whilst Wisdom created the goal for Wickham, another England substitute, Zele Ismail, was also anxious to involve himself in the action, on one occasion he linked well with Afobe, but his left foot drive flew narrowly over.
Scotland's Nicholas Main attempted to halve the deficit just before the hour mark, but his tame shot from outside the area crept past Johnstone’s left-hand post.
It was to prove the final clear-cut chance of the match and England played out ther final 15 minutes with relative ease.
1 Samuel Johnstone, 2 David Atkinson (12 Andre Wisdom, 41), 3 Luke Garbutt (C), 4 George Thorne (16 Matthias Fanimo, 76), 5 Louis Laing, 6 Tom Thorpe, 7 Bruno Pilatos, 8 Ross Barkley (15 Jordan Cousins, 71), 9 Benik Afobe, 10 Connor Wickham (17 Saido Berahino, 64), 11 Aziz Deen-Conteh (14 Zele Ismail, 41)Substitutes not used
13 Jak Alnwick (GK), 18 Jack Robinson
1 Robert Thomson, 2 Adam Hunter (14 Kyle McAusland 37), 3 Michael Noble, 4 John Young, 5 Christopher Ketterer, 6 Fraser Fyvie (C), 7 Conor Ramsey (15 Jamie Walker, 41) 8 Dylan McGeogh (18 Nicholas Main, 56), 9 Liam Gormley (16 David Smith, 71), 10 Graeme McGreggor, 11 Callum McGreggor
Substitutes not used
12 Shaun Thomson (GK), 17 Euan Lindsay
Simon Barrow and Robert Madley