England struggle to convince in 3-0 win over Malta

Thursday 15 Jan 2015
Ian Parkes was on target for England Futsal
England kicked off their UEFA Futsal Euros qualifying campaign with a convincing 3-0 win and an important three points against the hosts Malta in front of a lively and raucous partisan home crowd. 

The Three Lions never looked in much doubt of losing this match, but will be a little disappointed at the manner of their performance to secure the three points.

Malta 0-3 England

UEFA Futsal Euros
Hibernians Pavillon, Paola
Wednesday 14 January 2015

England’s meticulous preparations over the past year have seen significant improvement in all areas, and high-quality performances have led to a raised expectation within the English futsal family. 

The opening moments of the match suggested that there would be little to surprise England in this game. 

After three minutes England took the lead following some good build-up play allowed Stuart Cook to feed the ball into Ian Parkes on the edge of the Maltese penalty area. 

With a trademark swivel Parkes slammed the ball into the bottom corner to give the Lions the lead.

Head coach Pete Sturgess saw this as an opportunity to give all of his bench some court time to ease their nerves of playing in a big competition. 

Inadvertently this may have contributed to England losing their passing rhythm and flow, and England fell into a malaise from which they struggled to break free. 

Other than some long-range attempts, England struggled to create any further chances in the first half, while Malta arguably had the best attacking opportunities but failed to capitalise on sloppiness in possession. 

Luke Ballinger picked up a needless yellow card which may cost England later in the tournament if he receives a further yellow card.

The second half started in much the same vein, albeit England tightened up their defensive frailties and gave Malta very little opportunity to test James Dalton in goal. 

The game was meandering along until James Webb fired an exquisite through ball to release Ballinger, who tucked away his 46th goal for England into the bottom corner. 

For a short period England looked like they were going to find their rhythm and really put a tiring Maltese team to the sword. 

This also corresponded with the first introduction of England’s key player William Wallace to the fray. 

Up until this point Sturgess had elected to save Wallace for the tougher tests ahead in this group, but with his introduction England looked more menacing. 

But this was short-lived as Wallace soon left the game after a clash of heads left him bloodied. 

England drifted through the remainder of the game, and it was not until the last few minutes where the Maltese played unconvincingly with a fly-keeper did England look likely of scoring. 

Agon Rexha, taking advantage of some loose passing from the Maltese, had an empty net to score in to provide a little more gloss to the result than was probably deserved.

England: James Dalton, Ben Mortlock (C), Agon Rexha, Richard Ward, George Nash, Ian Parkes, David Jennings, Luke Ballinger, Will Rooke, James Webb, Toluwa Sotonye, Stuart Cook, Jordan Parker (GK), Guillermo Wallace.

Goals: Parkes 3, Ballinger 27, Rexha 39.

By FA Staff