Blake: 'Spirits are good'
Friday, 03 June, 2011
Head Coach pleased after Thursday's win over Switzerland.
By Nicholas Veevers
England U19s Head Coach Noel Blake praised the spirit and attitude of his squad after their thrilling victory over Switzerland sent the Elite Qualifying Round to a final game decider.
It looked as though the Young Lions would have to settle for a draw when the host nation netted an injury time equaliser to make it 2-2. But when midfielder George Thorne struck in the 94th minute to win it for England, Blake felt that epitomised the attitude of his players.
“We've had a chat and the players’ feeling is that they want to win games rather than draw them, so there is a confidence there,” explained Blake.
“I said to the lads before the game that we’re in a tournament situation and you always want to be going into the last game of the group with something to play for and that’s what we’ve got.
“The spirits are good and I’ve been pleased with all aspects, the results and the way the lads have been on this trip.”
After beating Montenegro in their group opener last Tuesday, a match in front of a home crowd and against a squad which won the U17 World Cup in 2009 was never going to be easy, so that pleased Blake even more.
“It was a very good game for the lads to sample,” he added. “Both teams were really going for it, and even though a draw wouldn’t have made any difference to what we would have to do in the last game, I was pleased we went and won it.
“It was one of those experiences for the players that money can’t buy. They had to play in front of a home crowd and the atmosphere that brings with it so there’s a pressure.
“I thought they did very well to deal with it, especially after conceding twice with the first goal coming early on and then the second one in added time, before we went on to get a winner.”
England now face Spain in their final game, knowing that they have to win in order to secure qualification for the European U19 Championship Finals in Romania. Spain have also won both of their two games, but with a better goal difference, they will top the group with a draw or win.
The Spain match kicks-off at 4pm and will be screened live on Spanish TV channel Marca.