England Under-18s kicked off their double-header against Holland with a 2-0 win on Thursday thanks to goals from Ben Sheaf and Kazaiah Sterling.
The Young Lions ended a superb first-half performance ahead thanks to Sheaf’s penalty, and while they were made to work harder defensively after the break, they deserved a second goal through Sterling.
Holland 0-2 England
Sportspark ‘t Slot, Capelle
Thursday 3 September 2015
Holland included five members of the squad that faced the Young Lions in a 1-1 draw in the European Championship group stages last season, while Neil Dewsnip had 13 at his disposal.
The hosts, renowned for their favoured 3-5-2 formation, looked to try and match England up as they started with a flat back four. The move did not work and they were outplayed for long spells in the opening period.
Dewsnip’s side were in complete control as they dictated the tempo, and their pressing will have been particularly pleasing to the head coach.
Holland could not keep hold of the ball as England hunted in packs to regain possession, and although the opportunities created did not reflect their dominance, the Young Lions took the lead on 28 minutes.
Arsenal midfielder Ben Sheaf slipped the ball in between two defenders for Marcus Edwards to race on to, but as he prepared to pull the trigger just inside the left of the area, the Spurs youngster was tripped.
Sheaf placed the ball on the spot for the penalty and confidently slotted home.
It was panning out perfectly for the visitors, and a second goal would surely have arrived before the interval but for a tremendous last-ditch tackle from Mats Grotenberg.
Edwards threaded a pass for Spurs team-mate Sterling to dart on to, but a defender made a covering block just as the striker was about to finish.
Sterling then saw a header saved after meeting an Edwards cross moments before the interval but he got his rewards five minutes after the restart.
Following a Dutch attack, the Young Lions made a quick transition from defence to attack as Sterling drove through two men on halfway and surged to the box.
Sterling was half-tackled but the ball fell to Holland down the right of the area, and the Everton winger picked out a perfect pass in between the keeper and the defence that allowed Sterling to run in and slot into the net.
From providing the second, Holland then nearly added a third as he collected the ball from a corner, cut to the edge of the box and shot just wide of the upright.
As expected, the hosts came at England in an attempt to claw themselves back into the contest. They shifted to a higher tempo and forced Dewsnip’s men back for long spells, but the Englsih backline, and in particular Ro-Shaun Williams, were dominant throughout to protect their clean sheet.
Sub Darnell Johnson also showed great bravery to block and effort with his body from Robin Schouten before the attacker skewed the loose ball wide from 10 yards.
Goalkeeper Paul Woolston was also called into action to palm away a free-kick from Rodney Kongolo but apart from that there were no real openings of note for the Dutch.
The two sides meet again on Saturday in the second of a double-header in Capelle.
Netherlands (4-2-3-1): 1 Jurrian Jouvenaar; 2 Sherel Floranus, 3 Danilho Doekhi, 4 Mats Knoester (captain), 5 Mats Grotenberg; 8 Rodney Kongolo, 6 Mees Hoedemakers; 7 Robin Schouten, 10 Odysseus Velanas, 11 Kai Koreniuk; 9 Ferdy Druijf.
Subs: 17 Mitchell van Rooijen for Koreniuk ht, 15 Dani de Wit for Velanas ht, 13 Rick van Drongelen for Doekhi ht, 18 Joey Konings for Schouten 62, 14 Carel Eiting for Hoedemakers 62,
Subs not used: 16 Jeffrey de Lange, 12 Giovanni Troupee
Bookings: Grotenberg 45
Head coach: Kees van Wonderen
England (4-2-3-1): 1 Paul Woolston (Newcastle United); 2 James Yates (Everton), 4 Ro-Shaun Williams (Manchester United), 5 Danny Collinge (VFB Stuttgart), 3 Jay DaSilva (Chelsea; captain); 6 Ben Sheaf (Arsenal), 8 Marcus Wood (Manchester City); 7 Nathan Holland (Everton), 10 Marcus Edwards (Tottenham), 11 Chris Willock (Arsenal); 9 Kazaiah Sterling (Tottenham Hotspur).
Subs: 16 Darnell Johnson (Leicester City) for Yates 58, 20 Will Patching (Manchester City) for Edwards 75, 19 Kaylen Hinds (Arsenal) for Sterling 75, 14 Daniel Wright (Sunderland) for Sheaf 86
Subs not used: 13 William Huffer (Leeds United), 22 Alfie Whiteman (Tottenham Hotspur), 12 Tayo Edun (Fulham), 15 Easah Suliman (Aston Villa), 17 Stephy Mavididi (Arsenal), 18 Herbie Kane (Liverpool)
Bookings: Collinge 56
Goals: Sheaf 28, Sterling 50
Head coach: Neil Dewsnip