VIDEO: Poles apart
Wednesday, 07 March, 2012
Young Lions seal comfortable win in Crewe after finding their flow.
By Nicholas Veevers at Gresty Road
England U18s ended their season in fine style with a comprehensive victory against Poland in Crewe on Wednesday night, where goals from Jordie Hiwula, Hallam Hope and debutant Matt Lecointe sealed a 3-0 victory.
Head Coach Noel Blake always likes to play two games at this level every season to keep the players’ international development running as well as take a look at new players who have caught the eye with their club form.
With a number of new faces in the squad, it was perhaps no surprise that it took the team a little while to gel and it was Poland who had the best of the early openings. After less than two minutes, Lukasz Wronski got the better of Jack Stephens but his cut-back to Piotr Zielinski was wastefully blasted high and wide by the midfielder.
Wronski was then guilty of a bad miss himself, as a low centre from the right wasn’t cleared by the England defence to leave the winger with a free shot at goal. Fortunately for the Young Lions, he fired back across goal and well off-target.
After those two early scares, England began to play their way back into the match and their first chance came when Hope picked out Jordan Lussey in the box from the right, but the Liverpool man’s close range finish was straight at Przemyslaw Frackowiak in the Poland goal.
Lussey tried his luck again just before the half-hour mark with a low left-footer from the edge of the area, only to see it roll wide of the post as England began to force the play on their visitors in search of the opener.
And England took the lead ten minutes before the break, when local lad and Crewe ace Max Clayton burst past Pawel Wojowski on the right before drilling a low cross into the area. It found its way to Hiwula at the far post and after just about getting the ball under control, he managed to steer past Frackowiak.
They almost had a second straight after, as Hope tested Frackowiak with an angled low shot and then fired narrowly over from just outside the area.
Poland could have been heading in at the break all level though, as a breakaway attack saw the ball land at the feet of Zielinskli seven yards from goal. He looked odds-on to equalise, but Jordan Pickford produced a stunning save to turn his shot behind for a corner.
Blake took the opportunity to make a few substitutions at the break and examine his squad a little more closely, with U18 debuts for Ben Garratt, Jack Barmby and Jordan Willis whilst defender Tyler Blackett got another taste of the action following his appearance in Slovakia last year.
With an hour played, England clicked again and Hope got the goal that he’d been threatening when he clipped a fine, first time shot past Frackowiak from just outside the area and into the bottom corner.
Blake made three more substitutions made on the hour mark and it took just four minutes for Lecointe to make his mark as he controlled Willis' cross from the right before lifting a shot over the advancing ‘keeper and into the net.
England controlled the possession and tempo of the game from there and were perhaps unfortunate not to add to their tally.
Jack Dunn saw a low shot well saved, before Lecointe was denied a second goal by a double stop from Frackowiak in the dying minutes.
But 3-0 was certainly an accurate scoreline and reflection of the game and will leave Blake happy with his week's work.