Adam Armstrong earned England a deserved victory over Switzerland, but the Young Lions will have been disappointed not to have added to their total.
The Newcastle United forward popped up minutes after the break to stroke the ball home at the second attempt, but his manager Neil Dewsnip will be hoping his men are much more ruthless in the second of their double-header against the Swiss on Saturday.
England 1-0 Switzerland
St. George's Park
Thursday 26 March 2015
Dewsnip handed international debuts to Sheffield United midfielder Louis Reed and Fulham goalkeeper Magnus Norman, and the big shotstopper was called into action inside the first minute.
Swiss attacker Neftali Manzambi broke on to a lofted ball into the box, but Tosin Adarabioyo managed to nick the ball out of his path before he could pull the trigger, with large appeals from the visitors for a penalty.
After their shaky opening, the hosts quickly began to settle as Reed fed Sheyi Ojo the ball out wide before he whipped a low cross across the six-yard box – but the onrushing Dominic Solanke was unable to add the final touch to open the scoring.
Ojo was in the thick of it again shortly after 10 minutes, although perhaps not intentionally, as his corner rebounded back at him off the near post.
The attacker, who is currently on loan at Wigan Athletic from Liverpool, was then thwarted by goalkeeper Gregord Kobel having been played through by Solanke as England began to ramp up the pressure.
New-boy Reed was next to try his luck. Josh Sims broke down the left and fed the ball to Armstrong, he cut it back to the debutant, but his side-footed strike curled just the wrong side of the post.
In the dying seconds of the half the Young Lions had one final chance, when good work from Armstrong and Jonjoe Kenny saw the latter fire in a cross towards the back post where Ojo was lurking, but his header was tipped over the bar by the keeper.
Chelsea defender Jake Clarke-Salter replaced Adarabioyo at the break in the heart of the English defence, and whatever words Dewsnip said to his side at half-time worked as they shot out the traps to make the breakthrough.
Just three minutes after the restart Taylor Moore played Armstrong in behind the defence, and the forward raced clear to fire at goal. The keeper saved his first effort, but he stroked home the rebound to give his side the lead.
England now had the bit between their teeth as Ledson’s cross was met by Clarke-Salter’s head which travelled just wide of the target before Armstrong tore down the right to lay-off to Ojo, but the resulting strike was sent way over the bar.
Switzerland gave the hosts a timely reminder of their danger on the counter, sub Nikola Gjorgjev cutting out a Ledson header and darting forward to send a strike whizzing past the post from 20 yards.
Kobel was enjoying a fine game between the sticks for Switzerland as he denied Solanke and goalscorer Armstrong’s header – and with 12 minutes remaining he found himself in an identical situation to his goal, only this time his rebounded effort was blocked by a defender after another stop from the keeper.
Middlesbrough’s Harry Chapman was introduced from the bench for his debut and it was his run that created an opening for Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham, but his first England goal evaded him as his effort with the outside of his boot went inches wide of the upright.
The two sides meet again at Walsall’s Banks’s Stadium at 5.30pm on Saturday.
England (4-1-2-1-2): 1 Magnus Norman (Farnborough, on-loan from Fulham); 2 Jonjoe Kenny (Everton), 5 Tosin Adarabioyo (Manchester City), 6 Taylor Moore (RC Lens), 3 Callum Connolly (Everton); 4 Ryan Ledson (C) (Everton); 8 Louis Reed (Sheffield United), 11 Josh Sims (Southampton); 10 Sheyi Ojo (wigan Athletic, on-loan from Liverpool); 18 Adam Armstrong (Newcastle United), 9 Dominic Solanke (Chelsea).
Subs: 14 Jake Clarke-Salter (Chelsea) for Adarabioyo 45; 7 Tammy Abraham (Chelsea) for Solanke 64; 17 Josh Onomah (Tottenham) for Ojo 64; 16 Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal) for Reed 81; 19 Harry Chapman (Middlesbrough) for Sims 81.
Subs not used: 13 Sam Howes (West Ham United); 12 Max Lowe (Derby County); 15 Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham);20 Luke Amos (Tottenham)
Goals: Armstrong 48
Head coach: Neil Dewsnip
Switzerland: 1 Gregord Kobel; 2 Samir Bajrami (C), 4 Mirlind Kryeziu, 5 Adonis Ajeti, 3 Linus Obexer; 7 Neftali Manzambi, 6 Remo Arnold, 8 Noah Sylvestre, 11 Bruno Ferreira Moragado; 9 Boris Babic, 10 Harun Alpsoy
Substitutes: 16 Charly Pickel for Arnold 37; 18 Nikola Gjorgjev for Manzambi 45; 17 Roberto Eman Alves Oliveira for Ferreira Moragado 64; 19 Kwando Duah for Alpsoy 64; 14 Ivan Lurati for Ajeti 64; 15 Stefan Bakalovic for Babic 81.
Subs not used: 12 Mathieu Descloux, 13 Simon Enzler,
Head coach: Claude Ryf