The England U18 Schoolboys travelled to Crystal Palace Academy’s training ground this weekend for their second friendly fixture as a squad. The Young Lions went 1-0 up early on but where pegged back by a technically gifted Crystal palace side with the game ending 1-1.
The England Schoolboys would face a much different challenge on a sunny but cold afternoon in South East London to the one posed by the RAF two weekends ago. They faced a talented full-time academy team on their own ground, a test that would put the schoolboys in good stead for their competitive centenary shield matches.
After settling into the game early the England lads pushed forward at every opportunity forcing a couple of corners which could have easily seen them take the lead while Alfie Dean and skipper Jack Bates both had shots from the edge of the box that failed to test the keeper.
At the other end Jasper Sheik got down smartly to smother a shot from the edge of the box in the first real shot on goal for the Eagles as the England defence withstood any pressure coming their way.
It was no surprise to see Josh Stones causing headaches for Palace with his constant chasing of any defender daring to have the ball at their feet and it was also no surprise he supplied the England goal to open the scoring.
Shortly after Hugh Cullum had blocked a shot from a Palace winger for a corner, England broke and Stones ran into the box at an angle before striking a left foot shot into the far corner for his second goal in as many games.
Sheik produced an outstanding save to deny the home side an equaliser from a free kick just before the break, with Stones almost doubling the lead with a shot from the edge of the box that hit the post.
Palace drew level early in the second half from a set piece, a ball into the back post was headed home from close range with the first chance of the second half as the home side began on the front foot.
The home side had certainly tried to up the tempo with a couple of half chances following but at the other end, Dean saw a strike on goal blocked and Freddie Legg’s shot from the edge of the box was kept out by a combination of keeper and defender.
The game ended without further goals but was another match that will help in the prep for the Centenary Shield kicking off in late March.
England Manager Richy Alderson said:
“I thought it was a good challenge for us against a good, technical full time academy youth team. We possibly deserved to win with some good scoring opportunities missed and it was disappointing to concede from a set-piece but that is something we can work on at the St George’s Park training camp next week. I thought we had some excellent performances throughout the team and we were particularly pleased with the way our four centre halves played as well as another scoring display from Josh Stones.”
Next up for the squad is the training camp at St Georges Park next week with 4 days of work before the Centenary Shield kick off.
To purchase any photos from the game, please contact ThreeFiveThree Photography. For any media enquiries please contact Jacob Blades on Jacob.Blades@schoolsfa.com.
The National Governing Body for Schools’ Football in England.