England still in the hunt after comeback draw with Latvia

Friday 16 Jan 2015
Stuart Cook netted twice for England

England must beat Andorra on Saturday and hope that Latvia do not cut loose against Malta if they are to reach the next stage of qualifying for the UEFA Futsal Euros.

The Three Lions and Latvia are level on points at the top of their preliminary round group – and they have Manchester midfielder Stuart Cook to thank after his two goals secured a 2-2 draw with Latvia on Thursday.

Latvia 2-2 England

UEFA Futsal Euro
Qualifying Preliminary Round
Hibernians Pavillon, Paola, Malta
Thursday 15 January

Pete Sturgess's side would have gone into Saturday's match without a hope of progressing had they failed to overhaul Latvia's 2-0 lead, but they fought back after an inauspicious start.

Latvia opened the scoring midway through the first period with the excellent Andrejs Sustrovs finishing a well-worked team move. 

England had a chance to respond almost immediately, but the usually reliable Ian Parkes fired wide a glorious chance from three metres out. 

And Latvia extended their lead on 13 minutes with an outstanding goal from Kaspars Ikstens. 

Most teams would have been rattled, but this England side have a confident and calm collection of players who never seem to know they are beaten. 

England took the game to Latvia and repeated the passing rotation that moments earlier had presented Parkes with his chance. 

This time it fell to Manchester’s star player Cook, who gave England the lifeline they needed. 

After the break Baku’s Agon Rexha continued to be a thorn in the Latvian side, coming close on several occasions.  

England began to find fluency in their passing, movement and interplay – with William Wallace and Cook particularly threatening.

Latvia were by no means dead and buried, and they continued to offer a menacing counter-attacking threat.  

And Cook was lucky not to receive a red card after hauling down Igors Dacko, who was through one-on-one with goalkeeper James Dalton.

But England’s sustained pressure was starting to tell and Luke Ballinger, Richard Ward and Rexha all had excellent chances to get the equaliser.  

But just when it looked like it was not going to be England’s day, Cook scored his second goal of the night.  

There was still time for Rexha to slam a set-piece against the foot of the post, and Cook to have one more excellent chance to grab his hat-trick.  

But it was not to be and both teams had to settle for an exhilarating draw.

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

Goals: Cook 13, 33

By FA Staff