England U17s secure Euros place in fine fashion

Monday 23 Mar 2015
England Under-17s during the Elite Round qualifiers

England secured their place at the European Under-17 Championship in fine fashion with a 3-1 win over Slovenia.

The Young Lions took the lead midway through the opening period through skipper Reece Oxford before Nathan Holland and an own goal gave them a three-goal advantage at the break. 

Despite conceding late on, Peacock’s charges stood firm to win.

England 3-1 Slovenia

U17 Euro Elite Qualifying Round
Monday 23 March 2015
Proact Stadium, Chesterfield

After Norway’s 2-0 victory over Romania earlier in the day, England’s 3-0 win over the Scandinavians on Saturday ensured that, should they beat Slovenia, they would top Group Six no matter what the result in their final game.

Peacock made three changes to the side, with Jay DaSilva and Easah Suliman brought into his backline in place of Tayo Edun and Danny Collinge. Tottenham’s Kazaiah Sterling replaced Ike Ugbo at the front of the forward line.

Layton Ndukwu, top scorer for the Young Lions with four goals in their qualification campaign, looked to add to his tally early – but his fierce snapshot from the left inside the first two minutes was pushed away by keeper Rok Vodisek.

England’s stopper Paul Woolston was called into action next, after Timi Max Semic cut inside from the right of the area and shot low towards the bottom corner. The big Newcastle United goalie got down well to push it wide with his fingertips.

Slovenia were enjoying a nice bit of possession, but an impressive run from Nathan Holland to win a corner led to the Young Lions making the breakthrough on 20 minutes.

The Everton winger picked up possession on halfway and blitzed his way through the defence towards goal, but his through-ball on the edge of the area for Sterling was cut out by a defender as he cleared for a corner. 

Holland swung the cross in himself from the left towards the far post, and captain Reece Oxford leapt the highest to power home a header, via a deflection, into the top corner.

Back came the visitors, and Woolston had to be at his best on the half-hour mark to deny Jacob Novak. 

The Slovenia forward unleashed a strike that was destined for the top right corner, but the England No1 denied him with a diving one-handed save.

It was proving to be an entertaining encounter with the pace of Peacock’s forward line causing problems for the opposition defence, and this threat would lead to the Young Lions doubling their advantage on 36 minutes.

Holland, who was a thorn in Slovenia’s side all evening, drove forward again, playing a one-two with Chris Willock inside the area before firing into the bottom corner with his right foot from ten yards.

The impressive winger was heavily involved in the third, which arrived just two minutes later. He received the ball from Sterling near the right corner flag and skipped past a defender before pulling the ball back low across goal, wrong-footing full-back Matija Rom as his sliced clearance trickled into the net.

Slovenia head coach Igor Benedejcic made two changes at the break as he looked to find a way back into the contest, but Peacock’s side remained in control. 

And they felt they should have had a penalty when Sterling’s shot looked to have been blocked by a hand, only for the referee to wave away their penalty appeals.

With a comfortable lead, the England boss decided to shuffle his pack as Will Patching, Lukas Nmecha and Marcus Edwards were introduced to the action. 

Tottenham forward Edwards came close to adding his name to the scoresheet with a dazzling bit of trickery, collecting the ball out on the left and jinking past several defenders into the box before his shot from an acute angle was blocked at the near post.

The Young Lions seemed to be cruising, but the visitors made things a little more interesting with 15 minutes to go. 

Tom Davies was penalised for a foul out on the left wing, and the resulting free-kick was met by Fiorentina forward Jan Mlakar as his looping header crept inside the far post.

But it mattered not, England stood firm to hold on to their advantage and they will now anxiously await the European Championship draw. But first they look to end their group with a 100 per cent record against Romania on Thursday.

England (4-2-3-1): 1 Paul Woolston (Newcastle United); 2 James Yates (Everton), 5 Reece Oxford (C; West Ham United), 15 Easah Suliman (Aston Villa), 12 Jay DaSilva (Chelsea): 4 Tom Davies (Everton), 8 Daniel Wright (Sunderland); 7 Nathan Holland (Everton), 10 Chris Willock (Arsenal), 11 Layton Ndukwu (Leicester City); 18 Kazaiah Sterling (Tottenham Hotspur)

Substitutes: 14 Will Patching (Manchester City) for Willock 48; 17 Marcus Edwards (Tottenham Hotspur) for Ndukwu 54; 16 Lukas Nmecha (Manchester City) for Holland 64.

Substitutes not used: 13 Will Huffer (Leeds United), 3 Tayo Edun (Fulham); 9 Ike Ugbo (Chelsea), 6 Danny Collinge (Stuttgart).

Bookings: Suliman 28, Oxford 44.

Goals: Oxford 20; Holand 36, Rom OG 38.

Head coach: John Peacock

Slovenia (4-3-2-1): 1 Rok Vodisek; 18 Matija Rom, 15 Luka Gucek, 5 Oscar Cvjeticanin, 3 Sven Karic Sostaric; 10 Vitja Malencic, 4 Sandi Ogrinec, 8 Kristjan Sredojevic; 7 Jacob Novak, 11 Timi Max Elsnik; 9 Jan Mlakar (C)

Substitutes: 14 Rok Buzinel for Rom 40; 16 Dejan Petrovic for Ogrinec 40; 17 Gaber Petric for Sredojevic 67.

Substitutes not used: 12 Igor Vekic, 2 Sandi Coralic, 6 David Dedic, 13 Tim Oman.

Bookings: Malencic 42, Cvjetičanin 44, Novak 47.

Goals: Mlakar 65.

Head coach: Igor Benedejcic

By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer At Proact Stadium, Chesterfield