ESFA Internationals, featured, International Football

England U18 Schoolboys 2021/22- About their season

We take a look back at the England U18 Schoolboys’ 2021/22 international season, highlighting the journey they have gone on as a group and what this fantastic squad of players have achieved together this season

December 2021
The England U18 Schoolboys’ final squad was announced back in December following an intense trial process, sponsored by Pro:Direct, across the South East, South West, the Midlands and North regions. All trialists were nominated by their local County Schools’ FA to attend these regional trials, with hopes of being selected to pull on the three lions shirt as part of the final squad.

The final Pro:Direct trial was hosted at Lilleshall National Sports Centre in December 2021, where a representative side from the North and the South faced off for a place in the final squad. Richy Alderson, ESFA U18 Schoolboys’ manager said:I was very impressed with the high standard of individual players and both teams representing the North and South in the final trial at Lilleshall. The final trial was one of the best that I have witnessed for a long time.”

January 2022
Following selection, January saw the boys attend their shirt presentation ceremony hosted by ESFA chairman, Mark Hignett, at Rectory Park in Middlesex. The boys were presented with their England shirts, provided by ESFA official kit provider Pro:Direct and sponsored by ESFA principle partner Utilita – a proud moment for the players and their families. Following the presentation, the boys played their first friendly fixture against the RAF U23 side, coming away with a 4-1 win to get their international campaign off to a flying start! Read the full match report here.

Next up for the England schoolboys was a trip to Crystal Palace to play their U18 academy side. A tough challenge against a technically gifted opponent was ahead, but the boys played superbly to claim a 1-1 draw. 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 across the team and we were particularly pleased with the way our four centre halves played as well“. Read the full match report here.

February 2022
February half term saw the squad travel to St George’s Park for their preparatory training camp courtesy of ESFA sports tours partners, inspiresport. During their training camp they played the Notts County U18 side and came away with an impressive 2-1 victory. England Manager Richy Alderson said:  We had a fantastic training camp at St George’s Park during February half term. The 4 days certainly helped with team bonding on and off the pitch, developing understanding of tactics throughout 4 very good training sessions, and the game versus Notts County youth team was an ideal challenge. The players really enjoyed the experience, living the life of an international youth player for 4 days at the home of football. An incredible experience that players and staff will cherish. Read the full match report and roundup of their February half term training camp here.

See the England Schoolboys in action at their St George’s Park training camp below.

For their final friendly before their competitive inspiresport Centenary Shield fixtures, the squad travelled to the magnificent Shrewsbury school to play the ISFA (Independent Schools’ FA) U18 side. A strong ISFA team pushed the England squad the whole way and equalised in the final seconds to end the game 3-3. Read the full match report here.

inspiresport Centenary Shield

Northern Ireland v England

England kicked off their Centenary Shield campaign with a trip to Belfast to play their Northern Ireland counterparts. With the game being broadcast live on the BBC, the pressure was on for the England boys to get their campaign off to a flying start. After a closely contested game, a late winner established this night as a memory to cherish for many of these young men. Read the full match report here.

England v Scotland

Just a week later, England were back on home turf hosting Scotland at Spennymoor Town FC-in front of a crowd of more than 2000. The fixture, which was arguably the most highly anticipated fixture in this year’s Centenary Shield campaign saw England come away with an impressive 4-0 victory. Read the full match report here.

England v Republic of Ireland

Friday 8th April saw the squad travel south to Eastleigh FC where the squad faced a strong Republic of Ireland side, with both teams competing for a spot at the top of the Centenary Shield standings. With a strong crowd at their backs and former England goalkeeper David James on commentary duty, the England Schoolboys did themselves proud, coming back from a goal down to secure a 1-1 draw. Read the full match report here.

Wales v England

The England boys concluded their inspiresport Centenary Shield campaign with a trip to Wales to face a strong Welsh side. England fell to a disappointing 4-1 defeat to round off their international season, in a game against the eventual winners of this season’s inspiresport centenary shield. Read the full match report here.

You can watch the entirety of England’s Centenary shield campaign on our youtube channel ESFA TV here.

Season Round-Up

Overall it has been a very successful season for the England U18 Schoolboys and as a group they have represented their country and the ESFA with pride. The ESFA wishes everyone involved in this season’s England U18 Schoolboys’ squad the very best with their future endeavours and hopes that they look back on this experience with pride and fondness.

The ESFA would like to thank the England U18 Schoolboys management team who all give up their time on a voluntary basis to support the international programme and help develop the best up-and-coming players in schools’ football. A special thank you goes to the manager Richy Alderson who has come to the end of his five year spell with the England Schoolboys, and has given his all throughout this experience, to provide the players involved the best experience possible. He ends his 3 years as England manager with 14 wins, 7 draws and 2 losses in, a very respectable record at the very highest level of schools’ football.

The ESFA would also like to thank all of the players’ parents for their commitment to each England Schoolboys’ journey and for travelling the length of the country to get behind the squad.

The ESFA have received some amazing feedback from player and parents from this years programme that you can read below:

“I Just wanted to say a massive thank you to you for involving me in the whole thing. I have made memories and friends which will undoubtedly live with me for the rest of my life. I have loved every minute of it, and could not be more proud of everyone involved. -Joe Paradise

“I’ve absolutely loved the last 12 weeks of being an England Schoolboy and have made memories I’ll never forget. My main highlight would’ve been either the 4-0 smashing of Scotland at Spennymoor or captaining the side against Notts County at SGP which was a very proud moment. It’s been the best couple of months of my life so thank you very much.”Jack Beerling

“What a time I’ve had over the last few months…made some memories that will be with me for the rest of my life and I’ve loved every minute of it. Feel like I’ve also learnt more and the whole experience has made me progress as a player and as a person off the pitch too. Loved it all.”Ashton Fox

“Thank you so much for a really fantastic few months and for all your support and encouragement to Jack. It has been an incredible experience and he’s absolutely loved being part of it all. Thank you!”Mr Bates

The ESFA would like to thank the sponsors of the international programme, Utilita, Pro:Direct, First Point USA, inspiresport, UCFB, Statsport and Zone Broadband. Their support allows the ESFA to provide the England Schoolboys with the best possible experience and put them in good stead for their careers going forward. A big thank you also goes out to all the player sponsors who have supported a young local talent and allowed them to show off their skills on the international stage.

Finally, a big thank you to Garry Griffiths from 353 photography who has captured the England U18 Schoolboys international journey brilliantly throughout the season. Please contact 353 Photography to purchase any images of the England squads this season.

ESFA Internationals, featured, International Football, Match Reports

England U18 Schoolboys 3-3 ISFA U18 Schoolboys

Another excellent test for the England U18 Schoolboys in their final warm-up fixture before their inspiresport Centenary Shield campaign kicks off on Saturday 25th March.

The magnificent Shrewsbury School was the venue and the Independent Schools FA representative side were the opponents, in a game that was full of attacking intent from the kick-off.

ISFA were the first to threaten with pressure around the England goalmouth but, ultimately, no clear cut chances to threaten Harvey Keogh’s goal.

Almost inevitably the opening goal was scored by Josh Stones for England.A well worked moved started on the left with Noah Carney spreading the ball right to Freddie Legg who supplied a pass down the line for Matty Dopson to cross into the box with Stones stooping to head past the ISFA keeper for a 10th minute lead.

The lead was almost doubled moments later as the ISFA goal led a charmed life with the ball somehow staying out of the net.

Another move down the right saw Legg’s cross just nicked away from Carney 8 yards out but the loose ball fell to Jack Bates whose shot was headed off the line, with Legg’s follow up saved and the ball eventually cleared to safety.

Moments later, Stones crossed for Legg who steered the ball back across the 6 yard box, but the ISFA keeper dived to intercept before Carney would almost have certainly prodded the ball home for a second goal.

The half continued in the same vein with half chances at either end, the ISFA side failing to take advantage of a number of set pieces and Keogh in the England goal making a save from close range before collecting the subsequent corner to quash another attack.

Jack Bates curled a dangerous free-kick into the home penalty area and it somehow avoided the glut of players in the 6 yard box. Soon after Bates saw a free-kick sail over the wall and crossbar from 25 yards out.

Just before the break England doubled their lead as Stones made space to shoot low past the keeper for a 2-0 half time lead.

Numerous changes at the start of the second half certainly disrupted England’s rhythm, as did the early ISFA goal had them back in the game just couple of minutes into the half.

Both Bailey Hall and Thomas Gruzewski put crosses into the box from either flank but England failed to restore the 2 goal cushion and paid the price when ISFA drew level with a shot into the top corner from just inside the box.

Again the chances were thin on the ground despite plenty of promise in the middle third of the park but England appeared to have snatched a late win when a free-kick into the box caused mayhem, Stones saw his shot blocked but the ball fell into the path of Hugh Cullum who smashed the ball into the net from close range.

ISFA were not to be denied though and grabbed a late equaliser with a sequence of head tennis inside the box ending with a close range header into the net for a 3-3 draw, preserved by a late fingertip save from Josh Mazfari in the England goal as the clock ticked down.

A fair result in the end and a big thank you to ISFA and Shrewsbury School for hosting as well as to all those who came to support the teams.

Next up for England is the opening Centenary Shield game in Belfast against Northern Ireland in just under 3 weeks time which marks the first of their four successive Friday night international fixtures.

Match report and photos supplied by 353 Photography

To purchase any photos from the game, please contact ThreeFiveThree Photography. For any media enquiries please contact Jacob Blades on Jacob.Blades@schoolsfa.com.