Attitude and three points please Pearce
Saturday, 05 September, 2009
Stuart Pearce happy with three points from a tough opening game
Jamie Bradbury in Prilep
England Under-21s coach Stuart Pearce was pleased to get the 2011 UEFA Championship qualifying campaign off to a winning start in Macedonia, but says there are improvements to be made with his team’s aim a place in the Finals in Denmark.
After guiding the previous Under-21s team to the Final in June, Pearce will be hoping to go one better and lift the trophy, but with one competitive game and one friendly played by this new group, he’s looking forward to spending more time with them to help them develop as a team.
The Three Lions had to battle against a tough Macedonian side in the afternoon heat of Prilep’s Goce Delcev stadium and found themselves a goal down when a rocket from striker Agim Ibraimi beat Scott Loach from 25-yards.
They rode their luck too, with the home team coming close on more than one occasion, until Freddie Sears, on as a sub, turned in from close range to level in the second half.
A Lee Cattermole penalty inside the last ten minutes after a foul on Jack Wilshere clinched the match, but Pearce was full of praise for the hosts.
“The game was played in very difficult conditions for both sets of players, it was very warm out there, I think both teams put a good show on,” he said.
“It was a tough game for us, that’s for sure. Macedonia played very well and I’m pleased with the attitude of my players to keep going right up to the last minute and eventually win the match.
“Sometimes in matches mistakes are forced upon teams when the pressure is raised and that’s what we did in the second half, but we know that we need to make big improvements and the more time we have together the better our team will become.
“With a new group of players, because we went to the Finals in the summer, we’ve only had two matches together; this one and the one in Holland last month. The more matches we have together I think the better they will become. I feel as though we’ll be a stronger side when we play on Tuesday.”
He continued: “We have some players who were with us in the summer, others who are fresh into this squad, so in an ideal world for me, it would have been nice to have four or five matches before the competitive games start, but we don’t have that luxury.”
“So I’m pleased we have won this match away from home and I think we’ll learn a lot more about our players in the upcoming matches, we have four more really important qualifiers before Christmas.
“It was a great place to come for us, it’s very important for our young players to come to places like this in the international football education.”
“Macedonia gave us a good game. I watched their match against Greece and Macedonia showed great spirit, especially after going a goal down after six minutes. In the group, whoever Macedonia play they will give a really good account of themselves and make it very difficult for teams as they did for us.
“If I’m asked if they deserved more out of the game, then yes, perhaps they did. Macedonia played very well today and we’re not surprised it was a really tough match.”
England now head to Greece for their second Group Nine Qualifier in Tripoli on Tuesday evening, kick off 5pm BST
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