England Futsal squad enjoy World Cup warm-ups in Estonia

Monday 19 Oct 2015
England shared a draw with Estonia, before securing a 2-0 victory in Tallinn

England began their preparations for next week’s FIFA World Futsal Championship qualifiers in Israel with two challenging matches against a vastly improved Estonian side.  

If England had been expecting a couple of easy warm-up fixtures in Tallinn, the Three Lions quickly realised that this was not going to be the case with a hard-fought draw in the first match and a highly impressive 2-0 victory in the second game.

Head coach Pete Sturgess was missing from these fixtures due to family circumstances, so assistant coach Mike Skubala picked up the reigns.  

Estonia v England

Futsal Internationals
Friday 16 & Saturday 17 October 2015
Tallinn, Estonia
By Simon Walker

With key players such as William Wallace, Stuart Cook, Ben Mortlock, James Dalton and Dave Jennings also unavailable, these upheavals appeared to make themselves felt in the first game.

From the outset England’s play was rusty, with good intensity but little quality and Jordan Parker was by the far the busier of the two goalkeepers with several outstanding saves.  

But James Webb brought some light to England, scoring his first international goal with a phenomenal strike from range that flew into the top-corner after England began the second half with a little more control and quality to their game. 

Richard Ward then scored a well-worked goal, but errors continued to punctuate England’s performance.  

That only served to intensify Estonia game who rallied and responded with two quick-fire goals to bring them level, before Ward scored his second to restore England’s advantage.  

On five-fouls, Estonia looked beaten and England looked the dominant force, but then showed their naivety in not drawing the sixth foul and resulting long-penalty that would have given them a more commanding lead.  

Instead, Estonia punished England in the final moments when the fly-keeper they scuffed a shot into the bottom corner.  A scruffy goal, but on the balance of play Estonia deserved their 3-3 draw.

The following day England started the second match in a totally different mind-set. Evident frustrations over their performance in the first game resulted in a far more focused and professional displayed from the start of this second game.  

The Lions passed with greater fluency, were calmer and more decisive in possession and never looked in danger of losing this second game.  The previous night was clearly the wake-up call that the squad needed ahead of next week’s World Cup fixtures.

Agon Rexha and Webb particularly stretched the Estonians during the opening period, providing a strong foundation for the rest of the squad to build-upon.  

England played well and dominated possession but struggled to convert this dominance into clear-cut chances by hitting the post and the bar multiple times.

Skubala took advantage of this dominance to blood some promising younger players with Max Kilman, Arthur Rogers and goalkeeper Tom Dennis all making their debuts in this game, with Kilman particularly shining.

The second half saw Raoni Medina, the FA National Futsal League’s most prolific goalscorer over the years, score his first two goals for the Lions.  

His first was a clever piece of improvisation after the goalkeeper had saved his first effort, and whilst lying on the floor Medina managed to stretch out his leg and flick the ball over the keeper.  His second was a close range finish following good build-up play.

The game finished 2-0 to England, but with the dominance and quality of England’s play, a higher scoreline would have been a fairer reflection of the game.  

The Three Lions head into their first qualifying match on Thursday in Tel-Aviv against their Welsh rivals with some positive momentum following these two matches with Estonia.  

England are still far from their fluent best, but over these two games there were significant improvements and with further fine-tuning in the training camps ahead of Thursday’s opening match along with Wallace, Cook and Jennings adding further quality to the squad, England go to Israel with good morale.  The performance of the debutants also bodes well for England’s future.

England squad: Parker (GK), Parkes (C), Rexha, Ward, Reed, Medina, Kilman, Ballinger, Rooke, Webb, Rogers, Goldstein, Dennis (GK), Croft (GK)

Game One 
Goals: Webb (17), Ward (22, 30)
Estonia: Veskimal (24), Monskind (27), Tsurilkin (39)

Game Two
: Medina (27, 33)

By FA Staff