Dutch prove too much for England
Thursday, 12 May, 2011
Three Lions lose out to the Dutch in tight Semi-Final.
By Nicholas Veevers in Novi Sad
England’s hopes of retaining their European U17 Championship crown were brought to an end in Novi Sad on Thursday morning when they were narrowly beaten by a solid and mechanic Holland team.
The winning goal arrived midway through a rather slow first half, perhaps understandable given the morning kick-off time and mid-day temperature in Serbia, and despite an improved performance in the second half, John Peacock’s team ultimately struggled to breach a Dutch defence which hadn’t conceded a single goal in the previous six games.
For the first 20 minutes, neither side could get a real stranglehold on the game. The Dutch looked lively down the flanks, whilst England were incisive and positive with their thinking, but both goalkeepers were kept quiet as the teams sounded each other out.
England had just started to feel their way into the game and exert a little pressure on Holland, but they were caught out in the 26th minute, when Holland edged ahead with what proved to be the winner.
Arsenal’s leggy midfielder Kyle Ebicilio brought the ball forward from deep and when there was no England challenge on him, he was able to trade passes with Anass Achahbar before striding into the box and shooting low into the bottom corner.
It was perhaps slightly against the run of play, and England responded with a 25 yard shot from Jake Caskey which rolled just wide of the post, before Brad Smith rampaged forward on the left only to see his effort fly high across the face of goal a few minutes later.
Given Holland’s obvious strength in defence, it was always going to be tough to break them down once they had a lead to hold onto for the second half, so the Young Lions would really have to dig deep if they were going to find a way back into the game.
And they had to, as it was Holland who started the brighter after the break by forcing a series of corners, before Ebicilio stung Jordan Pickford’s hands with a fierce low strike from 25 yards.
Peacock soon brought both Adam Morgan and Nathan Redmond on from the bench in a bid to break the malaise and try to test the Dutch rearguard, having seen them successfully withstand the England advances in the first 50 minutes.
Within minutes, Redmond had done well on the left to cut inside and fire a shot just over the bar and then Morgan’s wicked free-kick was diverted narrowly wide of the post by the chest of Sam Magri.
Blair Turgott then led the charge with a direct run at goal, but the West Ham winger had the ball just nicked away from him by Ebecilio as he was about to fire a shot at goal.
Morgan then shot narrowly wide from the edge of the area after a good move involving Max Clayton and John Lundstram. Another chance for England came in the 77th minute, when Lundstram’s ball into the box was missed by everyone only to bounce just the wrong side of the post.
England threw everything forward in the last five minutes, but aside from a Magri header which was saved by Boy de Jong, the Dutch always managed to keep the Lions at arm’s length to secure their place in the Final.
It’s an obvious disappointment for Peacock and his team to not extend their stay in Serbia until Sunday, but these players won’t have to wait long to put this behind them as they have a World Cup in Mexico to look forward to next month.