England had to come from behind to share the spoils in their International Schoolboy friendly at Stafford Town on Saturday afternoon.
A cool but dry afternoon greeted the teams and once the game kicked off it was the visiting Australian side who settled first with captain Lachlan Sepping pulling the strings in midfield although chances at either end were few and far between.
Taylor Haddow in the England goal was certainly the busier of the two keepers and made a fine low save to deny Jordan Metcalfe from 12 yards out after a neat move from the visitors.
England’s best opening came not long after when Kenyatta Bernal just failed to beat Aussie keeper Luke Genua to a through ball from Hans Mpongo.
Shortly after it was roles reversed as Bernal’s midfield challenge set Mpongo racing through but the defence closed in and Dimitri Kostopoulos snuffed out the chance with a fine tackle just inside the box.
It was Metcalfe, an early substitute for the injured Jack Berte, who put Australia into the lead in the 33rd minute, taking advantage of a heavy touch from skipper Ross Johnstone to nip and and fire home off the post from the edge of the box giving Haddow no chance.
England made a number of changes to begin the second half and the game began to open up with the home side seeing Taylor Richardson put the defence under pressure from a header forward by Brad Santos and he poked the ball past the keeper but narrowly wide of the far post.
Charlie Dickerson then saw his cross headed over from Thomas Duffy from 8 yards out which was probably the clearest chance of the game for the hosts so far with the home side looking much sharper and dangerous in the second half.
Reece Wylie then made a fine run to the byline but his cross into the box was fired narrowly wide by Santos but it would not be long before the equaliser came.
Carter Lycett and Ben Reay combined well with the latter’s touch pass setting up Ethan Warne to curl home from 18 yards out shortly before the hour mark.
Despite plenty of effort from both sides the game was again short of clear chances until late in the game when the Aussies threatened, Jay McGowan fired narrowly wide and Connor Rose forced Cameron Pike into a save as the game approached the final 10 minutes.
Metcalfe will probably still be wondering how he failed to get the final touch for his second goal from inside the 6 yard box under pressure from England skipper Johnstone but the final score of 1-1 was ultimately a fair result over the 90 minutes.
The England squad will now prepare for their training camp in Eindhoven next month with the 4 days together a key part of the preparation for the Centenary Shield fixtures.
Man of the match: Ethan Warne
A big thank you to 353 photography for the images as well as for writing the match report. A full release of all the images of the game will be available from 353 Photography, available via their website or twitter page.
The National Governing Body for Schools’ Football in England.