McEachran's double act
Wednesday, 19 May, 2010
The midfielder's goal and celebration have further enhanced team spirit.
Glenn Lavery in Liechtenstein
UEFA European U17 Championship
By Glenn Lavery in Liechtenstein
As they attempt to become the first England team to lift the UEFA European U17 Championship, what strikes you most about John Peacock’s squad during the Finals in Liechtenstein is the team spirit that is flowing through the camp.
Before last night’s Group B game against Czech Republic, Benik Afobe said the spirit has been there since last season’s Victory Shield campaign when the majority of the squad first came together. They have played and developed together since, suffering very few defeats along the way and they are now attempting to re-write the record books and become the first England Men’s team to lift a European trophy since Sol Campbell and Gary Neville et al., won the 1993 World Youth Championship – the year this group of players were born.
Last night they got off to a great start, coming from a goal behind to defeat Czech Republic 3-1 in Vaduz. England dominated the game and were unlucky to go behind, against the run of play, on seven minutes when Jakub Plšek found himself unmarked inside the box to head home Tomáš Česlák’s free-kick. Peacock’s side refused to panic, though, and continued to play the ball about with confidence, looking likely to score with every attack. On 20 minutes Ross Barkley levelled, firing home the loose ball after Marek Krátký only partially cleared Will Keane’s delicious far post cross.
England continued to press after the break and two goals in a minute eventually gave them the three points they thoroughly deserved. On 68 minutes, Josh McEachran found Afobe in space down the left and the ball was eventually played across the midfield until it reached the substitute, Rob Hall. He squared the ball to Connor Wickham and the forward played in McEachran who had continued his run. The Chelsea midfielder took one touch to control the ball before chipping it over the dive of Czech ‘keeper, Vlastimil Veselý to score his first international goal.
“It was a good time to score because we needed that goal,” reflected McEachran. “If Connor hadn’t have passed it I would have had a go at him but once he passed it I knew I was going to score and I was happy with the finish. Hopefully I’ll get a few more this tournament.”
Afobe sealed the win moments later with a deflected drive and events after this third goal gave the squad the latest piece of material to “banter” about. McEachran ran towards Afobe to congratulate him, slid on his knees but bounced off the turf, shot forward and fell onto his face. “I got a couple of knocks on my legs during the game, nothing too bad, but my face hurt more,” laughed McEachran. “I’m OK now, though.”
After suffering a few friendly jibes at the post-match dinner table, and as if to highlight the squad's spirit, TheFA.com’s interview with McEachran was innocently disrupted by Afobe and George Thorne who took great pleasure in reminding the midfielder about his fall. “How’s your face, Josh?!” quipped Thorne, before bouncing away with a large grin. Afobe also joined in the harmless ridiculing before letting McEachran assess last night’s game in peace.
“I thought we did well,” said McEachran. “Especially in the second half, we played much better. In the first half we made a few individual mistakes, one that led to their goal, but in the second half we brought it back well.
“We want to win this tournament but we are only taking it one game at a time and trying to do our best in each one. The team get on really well, there’s good banter among us and it’s been a good week so far. We’ve just got to keep that going now.”
England’s second group game is against Greece on Friday.