England’s Under-18s lost 2-1 to South Africa in their second international friendly of the season as they prepare for the FIFA U17s World Cup next month.
There were a number of changes to Steve Cooper’s side from their previous match against Brazil on Friday, including Stoke City goalkeeper Joseph Bursik starting in front of a local crowd at Leek Town.
The Young Lions started the game confidently and initially appeared the more physically imposing side. A lovely ball early on from Nya Kirby to Emile Smith-Rowe led to a one-on-one chance, but the Arsenal youngster was unable to test the South Africa keeper.
- An U18s International
- Monday 4 September 2017
- Leek Town FC
South African striker Lyle Foster was left through on goal, and he made no mistake, rolling the ball to the left of the keeper with impressive composure.
The Young Lions needed to react, but they struggled to get the ball up front against their well-organised opponents, who defended strongly.
Danny Loader saw his right-footed curler narrowly miss the target towards the end of the first half, but England struggled to maintain possession and make an impact before the break.
Cooper made three changes at the interval, replacing Latibeaudiere with Manchester United’s Angel Gomes, while Fleetwood Town keeper Billy Crellin replaced Bursik in goal to earn his first international cap.
England won a well-placed free-kick in the 54th minute after Gomes was brought down on the edge of the penalty box; a well struck ball was nudged just over the bar by keeper Glenn Baajdies.
More changes followed as Chelsea’s George McEachran replaced Aidan Barlow and Spurs duo Tashan Oakley-Boothe and Timothy Eyoma replaced Matt O’Riley and Kane Wilson respectively.
Cooper’s substitutions served his side well and they began to look more threatening, with Phil Foden, on for Smith-Rowe, making an immediate impact, moving the ball around with pace to stretch the visitors. But, against the run of play, they doubled their lead.
A good ball from centre forward Lyle Foster and a great finish from Tashreeq Matthews saw South Africa go 2-0 up in the 74th minute.
England fought hard and looked bright in the dying embers, still pressing their opponents and coming close with two chances in the 90th minute.
Clever play by Loader in the final minute of the match found Foden’s feet to give England a consolatory goal, but despite England being the stronger team in the second half, the South Africans held on for victory.
England (4-3-2-1): 1 Joseph Bursik (Stoke City ); 2 Kane Wilson (West Bromwich Albion, on loan at Exeter City), 5 Joel Latibeaudiere (Manchester City), 6 Lewis Gibson (Everton), 3 Jake Vokins (Southampton); 4 Oliver Skipp (Tottenham Hotspur), 8 Matt O’Riley (Fulham); 7 Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal), 10 Nya Kirby (Crystal Palace), 11 Aidan Barlow (Manchester United); 9 Danny Loader (capt) (Reading).
Substitutes: 13 William Crellin (Fleetwood Town) Joseph Bursik (46), 16 Marc Guehi (Chelsea) for Joel Latibeaudiere (46), 19 Angel Gomes (Manchester United) for Nya Kirby (46), Phil Foden (Manchester City) for Emile Smith Rowe (49), George McEachran (Chelsea) for Aidan Barlow (62), 18 Tashan Oakley-Boothe (Tottenham Hotspur) for Matt O’Riley (72), 12 Timothy Eyoma (Tottenham Hotspur) for Kane Wilson (72).
Substitutes not used: 15 Jonathan Panzo.
Goal: Foden (90+7)
Head coach: Steve Cooper