England Under-18s had to work hard to secure a goalless draw in Holland after playing for nearly an hour with 10 men.
After Tayo Edun’s red card just beyond the half hour mark, Neil Dewsnip’s Young Lions produced a battling defensive display to resist the threat of the Dutch attack in the second half.
Despite two days of heavy rain prior to the game, the soft pitch played well and allowed the players to zip the ball around with ease at first.
Holland 0-0 England
An U18s International
Saturday 5 September
Sportspark ‘t Slot, Capelle
The Dutch started with a back four, but when in possession both full-backs were moving forward to make the extra man in midfield as the hosts switched to a back three.
The early exchanges saw Holland edge it as Kai Koreniuk fizzed a strike wide of the upright after latching onto a loose ball but England began to grow into the game and took control of the ball.
They forged their first opportunity when some good and patient attacking play was almost rewarded with an opener. The Young Lions moved the ball around the 18-yard box before Kaylen Hinds, captain for the day, crossed for Stephy Mavididi at the near post. However, the Arsenal forward was unable to convert his Gunners team-mate’s assist as he headed just wide of the post.
Just as Dewsnip’s side were beginning to grow in confidence they were dealt a bitter blow on 32 minutes as they were reduced to ten men. Fulham left-back Edun was given his marching orders for a dangerous tackle on Sherel Floranus on halfway.
Sunderland midfielder Daniel Wright was moved to right-back as James Yates switched sides during the reshuffle, and despite withstanding some pressure and set-pieces, the contest was goalless at the break.
Further changes were made at the interval as England switched to a 4-3-2 formation, Jay DaSilva coming on at left-back to replace midfielder Ben Sheaf. Leeds United shotstopper Will Huffer also lined up between the sticks in place of Alfie Whiteman.
As expected, the Young Lions were under the cosh, although the Dutch were struggling to carve open the resilient visiting defence. It appeared they had when Joey Konings was slipped in just inside the 18-yard line, but DaSilva got round him in the nick of time to clear as he prepared to pull the trigger.
Giovanni Troupee then miscued a cross as the ball missed everyone along the ground on its way into the centre, but once again Konings was denied, this time by the bravery of Yates with a sliding block.
Huffer was then called into action to save Mitchell van Rooijen’s effort as Holland continued to press on the very heavy playing surface in the torrential rain.
England, however, were working hard to get behind the ball and retain their shape. Their compactness was impressive as they allowed Holland possession in their own half but pressed when they ventured forward.
Herbie Kane, grounded inside the area, managed to nod the ball out of the path of Konings as the Dutch began to enjoy a sustained spell of pressure as play entered the final 15 minutes and Dewsnip’s side conceded a number of free-kicks.
Still the defensive line were holding firm as play entered the final moments, but further scares were to come as firstly substitute Ferdy Druijf rose highest to send a header wide from eight yards after meeting a corner.
Then the AZ Alkmaar attacker thought he had won it in the last minute. Darnell Johnson found himself up against two at the back post from a cross on the right. The Leicester City defender managed to flick behind him to deny the first chance before Druijf’s backwards flick was cleared on the line by Johnson to secure the draw.
Netherlands (4-3-2-1): 1 Jeffrey de Lange, 2 Giovanni Troupee, 3 Sherel Floranus, 4 Rick van Drongelen (Captain), 5 Mats Grotenberg; 10 Dani de Wit, 6 Carel Eiting, 8 Odysseus Velanas; 7 Mitchell van Rooijen, 11 Kai Koreniuk; 9 Joey Konings.
Substitutes: 12 Danilho Doekhi for Floranus 36, 17 Robin Schouten for Koreniuk 60, 14 Mees Hoedemakers for Eiting 60, 13 Mats Knoester for Grotenberg 60, 18 Ferdy Druijf for Van Rooijen 71, 15 Rodney Kongolo for Velanas 83.
Substitutes not used: 16 Jurrian Jouvenaar, 12 Danilho Doekhi.
Bookings: De Wit 16, Doekhi 43
Head coach: Kees van Wonderen
England (4-1-2-1-2): 1 Alfie Whiteman (Tottenham); 2 James Yates (Everton), 4 Easah Suliman (Aston Villa), 5 Darnell Johnson (Leicester), 3 Tayo Edun (Fulham); 6 Ben Sheaf (Arsenal); 7 Herbie Kane (Liverpool), 11 Daniel Wright (Sunderland); 8 Will Patching (Manchester City); 9 Stephy Mavididi (Arsenal), 10 Kaylen Hinds (C; Arsenal).
Substitutes: 13 Will Huffer (Leeds United) for Whiteman 46, 12 Jay DaSilva (Chelsea) for Sheaf 46, 14 Marcus Wood (Manchester City) for Mavididi 64, Kazaiah Sterling (Tottenham) for Hinds 64, 18 Chrissy Willock (Arsenal) for Patching 80.
Substitutes not used: 22 Paul Woolston (Gateshead, on-loan from Newcastle), 15 Ro-Shaun Williams (Manchester United), 16 Danny Collinge (Stuttgart), 17 Nathan Holland (Everton), 20 Marcus Edwards (Tottenham).
Bookings: Kane 84
Red card: Edun 32
Head coach: Neil Dewsnip