Lukas Nmecha’s first-half strike proved enough to earn England victory in a feisty affair with Macedonia – and secure a spot in the Elite Round qualifiers in March.
With France recording a 4-0 win over Cyprus in the other group match, the three points ensured John Peacock’s Young Lions and the day’s other victors both progress to the next stage of qualifying.
John Peacock made a total of six changes to his side from the opening victory over Cyprus, with Danny Collinge replacing the suspended Reece Oxford with Everton’s Tom Davies wearing the captain’s armband in his absence.
England 1-0 Macedonia
European U17 Championship
Monday 27 October 2014
Paphiakos Stadium, Paphos
Hayden Coulson came in at left-back, with Herbie Kane replacing Will Patching.
Charlie Wakefield started on the right of attack, and Saturday’s hat-trick hero Layton Ndukwu moved from the central striker position to the left flank, with Manchester City's Nmecha taking the place in the focal point of the forward line and Jacob Maddox just behind.
Having lost their first game, Macedonia needed a positive result to keep alive their hopes of qualification and they started brightly, pressing well and allowing England little time on the ball.
It resulted in a scrappy opening, with neither side creating much, but the Young Lions remained patient and they got their reward on 14 minutes with their first clearcut opening of the contest.
Chelsea’s Maddox broke to the byline on the right and pulled the ball back for Nmecha, who held off a challenge to prod home from eight yards.
Macedonia nearly caught England napping seconds after the restart, as a long ball down the right set Emil Abaz free. The winger drove forward into the box and pulled the trigger, but goalkeeper Paul Woolston got down well to deny him before saving his rebounded effort.
The game struggled to get a flow due to a 10-minute spell of niggling fouls dished out by the Macedonia side – and Milosh Tosheski became the first name entered into the referee’s notepad on 24 minutes after a foul on Kane.
To the surprise of those inside the Paphiakos Stadium, he was joined in the book by Davies four minutes later. The Everton midfielder looked to be felled as he powered into the area, but the official thought differently, and booked the youngster for his protests.
On 36 minutes Maddox opened his legs down the right and darted between two defenders, but his cut-back was deflected into the path of Wakefield on the edge of the area, and his Arsenal team-mate saw his strike blocked by a defender.
No changes were made at the break as the second period began with England in control, although they were almost pegged back seven minutes in.
Collinge lost possession inside his own half as Macedonia broke forward in numbers, the ball finding Zdravkovski at the far post – but Woolston stood up well to save from eight yards.
Peacock’s youngsters had to weather a short storm as Macedonia grew in confidence, and they managed to get the ball in the net through Ristovski - but his celebration was cut short by an offside flag.
With 24 minutes left to play, England boss Peacock made his first change as Everton’s Nathan Holland entered the fray down the right side in place of Wakefield, and he followed this up by introducing Chris Willock for the goalscorer Nmecha shortly afterwards.
And the move almost paid dividends as Arsenal attacker Willock came within centimetres of doubling the lead – rattling the crossbar on 72 minutes with a fantastic curling strike from the edge of the area.
Tensions nearly boiled over as Willock took issue with the latest hefty challenge, and a minor melee broke out.
But that proved to be the final action of the game as England saw out the contest to secure victory – meaning the victor of Thursday's final match with France will finish top of the Group 4 standings.
England (4-2-3-1): 1 Paul Woolston (Newcastle United); 2 James Yates (Everton), 6 Cameron Humphreys (Manchester City), 15 Danny Collinge (VFB Stuttgart), 12 Hayden Coulson (Middlesbrough); 4 Tom Davies (Everton) (C), 18 Herbie Kane (Liverpool); 17 Charlie Wakefield (Chelsea), 8 Jacob Maddox (Chelsea), 16 Layton Ndukwu (Leicester City); 9 Lukas Nmecha (Manchester City)
Substitutes: 7 Nathan Holland (Everton) for Wakefield 56, 11 Chris Willock (Arsenal) for Nmecha 62, 14 Will Patching (Manchester City) for Maddox 72.
Subs not used: Aston Oxborough (Norwich City), 10 Marcus Edwards (Tottenham Hotspur), 3 Jay DaSilva (Chelsea).
Goal: Nmecha 14
Bookings: Davies 28, Humphreys 77
Head coach: John Peacock
Macedonia (4-4-1-1): 1 Filip Trajchevski; 13 Kiril Ristovski, 14 Teodor Terziev, 6 Belmin Chuljevikj, 3 Filip Gichevski; 16 Nehar Sadiki; 11 Emil Abaz, 8 Milosh Tosheski; 15 Agon Hani; 10 Davor Zdravkovski (C); 9 Milan Ristovski.
Subs: 18 Mario Krstovski for Ristovski 60, 5 Antonio Mitrev for Terziev 62, 7 Darko Dodev for Gichevski 74.
Subs not used: 12 Jankov Risto, 2 Todor Todoroski, 4 Esmin Lichina, 17 Semir Ljumani.
Bookings: Tosheski 24, Sadiki 49, Gichevski 68, Abaz 75, Zdravkovski 80.
Head coach: Bobi Stojkoski
Watch the match highlights of the game here