England beat USA as 11,000 turn out in Plymouth

Sunday 29 Mar 2015
John Swift opens the scoring at Home Park

In front of more than 11,000 people in Plymouth, England Under-20s edged USA by 2-1 thanks to goals from John Swift and Kwame Thomas.

It was the first time an England side had visited the city for 26 years, and in truth they could have seen a far more comfortable England victory than they ended up witnessing after a late USA goal led to a nervy final few minutes for the Young Lions.

Nonetheless, it was another confident performance from Aidy Boothroyd’s team against high-calibre opposition and they will head to the Toulon Tournament this summer brimming with confidence and unbeaten in 2014-15.

England 2-1 USA

U20s International Match
3pm, Sunday 29 March
Home Park, Plymouth

It may have been the first day of British Summer Time, but those in the visitors' ranks more acclimatised to the tropics of Florida or the sun-kissed west coast would have been in for a shock at the conditions which greeted them at Home Park.

Despite the afternoon kick-off time and England’s summer status, the floodlights were on long before the game got underway, as near-on gale-force winds and driving rain swept in off the Atlantic.

And the conditions affected the beginning of the game as both sides struggled to find their rhythm.

As promised, head coach Boothroyd made sweeping changes to the side that beat Mexico 4-2 on penalties last Wednesday.

Highlights: England U20s 2-1 USA

He made ten in total with right-back Moses Odubajo – who impressed through that contest at the Hive - the only surviving member of the team. 

There was barely a touch for either goalkeeper within the first 20 minutes. 

But then, as the rain began to cease and the wind eased, the Young Lions clicked into gear.

England U20s striker Kwame Thomas celebrates his goal against USA.

Kwame Thomas celebrates his after he scored England's second goal against USA

A flurry of chances followed and Swift, the highly-rated Chelsea midfielder on loan at Swindon Town, seemed to be at the heart all things good for England.

Twice he went close from range and on one occasion he drew a fine fingertip save from North Carolina native Jeff Caldwell.

USA were a threat on the counter-attack though and a fine save from Sunderland stopper Jordan Pickford to deny Maki Tall was only thing that kept the scoreline level.

But it was England who were dominating. Alex Mowatt went close with a left-foot shot that rippled into the side-netting and subsequently had three-quarters of the crowd thinking the deadlock had been broken.

They would not have to wait long, as moments later Swift got the reward his fine first-half display deserved.

Obubajo broke forward on the right flank and picked out Swift on the edge of the box. The 19-year-old took one touch to control, and coolly fired past Caldwell to put England into the lead.

The England U20s line-up to face USA in Plymouth.

England Under-20s lineup ahead of their game against USA

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first. After a cagey opening, England sprung in to action and had their visitors on the ropes.

Matty Grimes, captaining his country for the first time, formed a formidable midfield partnership with Southampton’s Harrison Reed and the pair were dictating the tempo.

Mowatt again went close after excellent work on the left wing from Harry Toffolo, who was making his first appearance in an England shirt since October 2013.

The Norwich City defender, also on loan with Swindon, beat right-back Desevio Payne and squared to the Leeds United man, but his close-range shot flew just over.

Again though, the crowd did not have to wait long – and Swift was at the heart of the action once more.

Attacking on the left wing he beat his man and got to the byline. He bought himself a split-second to look up and cut the ball back into the path of Thomas, who doubled England's advantage.

It should have been enough for the Young Lions to see out the closing stages in comfort, but Tall’s 79th-minute strike meant a nervy ending to proceedings.

With minutes remaining substitute Boxi Yomba appeared to have leveled for the visitors, but an eagle-eyed official spotted the young winger had used his hand to guide the ball home.

He was booked for his efforts, as England saw the game out and Boohroyd continued his impressive, unbeaten run as England U20s boss.

England (3-4-2-1): 13 Jordan Pickford (Sunderland); 2 Moses Obubajo (Brentford), 4 Dominic Ball (Cambridge United on loan from Tottenham Hotspur), 17 Jordan Turnbull (Swindon Town on loan from Southampton), 12 Harry Toffolo (Swindon Town on loan from Norwich City); 15 Harrison Reed (Southampton), 7 Matty Grimes (Swansea City), 16 Jack Stephens (Swindon Town on loan from Southampton), 20 Alex Mowatt (Leeds United), 19 John Swift (Swindon Town on loan from Chelsea); 18 Kwame Thomas (Derby County)

Substitutes: 10 Callum Robinson (Preston North End on loan from Aston Villa) for Obubajo 66, 9 Chuba Akpom (Arsenal) for Mowatt 79, 14 Jamie Hanson (Derby County) for Swift 88.

Substitutes not used: 1 Christian Walton (Brighton & Hove Albion), 5 Dominic Iorfa (Wolverhampton Wanderers), 6 Bailey Cargill (AFC Bournemouth), 3 Kortney Hause (Wolverhampton Wanderers), 11 Jack Barmby (Leicester City), 8 Lewis Baker (MK Dons on loan from Chelsea)

Bookings: Stephens.

Goals: Swift 44. Thomas 68.

Head coach: Aidy Boothroyd

USA (4-3-3): 12 Jeff Caldwell; 2 Shaq Moore, 5 Cameron Carter-Vickters, 4 Desevio Payne, 3 John Requejo; 6 Russell Canouse, 7 Paul Arriola, 11 Marco Delgado; 8 Bradford Jamieson, 9 Rubio Rubin (C), 10 Maki Tall

Substitutes: 21 Tommy Thompson for Jamieson 46, 17 Joel Sonora for Arriola. 23 Lynden Gooch for Rubin 75. 14 Conor Donovan for Payne 75. 16 Boxi Yomba for Tall 78.

Substitutes not used: 22 Thomas Olsen, 15 Ethan Sonis, 18 Andrija Novakovich, 

Head coach: Tab Ramos

Bookings: Yomba.

Goals: Tall 74.

Referee: Steve Martin

Attendance: 11,406

By Jamie Reid Senior Writer at Home Park, Plymouth