ESFA Internationals, featured

England U18 schoolboys storm to victory in their final fixture as a squad!

A warm afternoon in Newcastle saw England Schoolboys play their final fixture of a disrupted campaign as they put on a great show of attacking football to defeat Harrogate Town Youth Academy at Longbenton. 

The visitors were playing their first fixture as an academy side with the League Two club having only recently set up their development programme and the early exchanges were fairly even as both sides looked to find a foothold in a game, scheduled for three periods of 30 minutes. 

The hosts were playing together for the first time in over a year and were missing a number of players from the original squad selected for the Centenary Shield campaign, but those who were available soon hit their stride. 

Taylor Richardson saw a shot saved by the visiting keeper but the resulting corner saw Charlie Dickerson head home for a 1-0 lead, a pinpoint delivery from Reece Wylie seeing the defender with a free header 6 yards out. 

England had a great chance to double their lead from the spot after Wylie was bundled over in the six yard box to end a surging run down the right. However, skipper Carter Lycett’s spot kick didn’t trouble the keeper or the goal frame as it sailed over the bar. 

The lead was doubled by Kenny Bernal shortly after though, a lovely through ball from Richardson allowed the midfielder to skip round Harvey Giles and fire into an empty net. 

Harrogate were by no means out of the game and pulled a goal back with their first ever academy goal from Finn O’Boyle, slotting under Cameron Pike after a swift counter attack that began with an England corner just 20 seconds earlier. 

Boyle saw a fierce shot flash wide of Pike’s far post before Richardson went close to scoring a third for the hosts, shooting just wide when through on goal after a pinpoint pass from the energetic Wylie. 

Moments later though he did find the net, a long range looping volley over the keeper making it 3-1 shortly before Pike was forced into a finger tip save to deny Joe Dixon from long range and prevent Harrogate pulling a goal back. 

Ollie Waddison fired home from the edge of the box to make it 4-1 with a couple of minutes left in the second period, battling to win the ball back after seeing his shot saved by the keeper before tip toeing along the edge of the box and firing into the far corner. 

In true symmetry England bagged another two goals in the final period of the game with Richardson grabbing his second volleyed goal after a lovely through ball from Ethan Warne to make it 5-1 before Ben Reay, Ethan Warne and David Pereira combined to put Waddison through to complete the 6-1 scoreline in their final outing together. 

Credit to both teams for putting on a display full of energy in very warm conditions, England played some excellent football at times and were always dangerous going forward but the visitors from Harrogate certainly had their moments to keep the game close and will rightly take plenty of positives from their first fixture together as a squad. 

The cap presentations signalled the end of a long international campaign for the lads, an unusual one in the current circumstances but parents and schools can certainly take pride in the achievements of this group of young men – we look forward to seeing their progress as they move into the next stages of their careers and wish them all good luck in whichever path they take.

A big thank you to our photographer Garry Griffiths from 353 photography for capturing the game and writing this report. A gallery from the game will be available shortly.

ESFA Internationals, featured

England U15 Schoolgirls fall just short of a comeback against their Scottish counterparts

A tough afternoon in the sun drenched north east as England’s 2019/20 Under 15 schoolgirls came up just short of snatching a draw in their final international fixture against Scotland. 

With a large crowd in attendance at Cochrane Park, both teams came out looking to attack and, despite a lack of clear chances in the opening exchanges, there was absolutely no doubt about the commitment from both teams with the feisty challenges that we expect from a match between these two great rivals, at any level of football.

That is not to say that there were no moments of quality. A delectable exchange between Rebecca Ferguson and Megan Sofield for the hosts, almost saw the latter through on goal. Ferguson also missed an opportunity to break the deadlock when a loose clearance from Scotland keeper, Ava Easdon fell at her feet 30 yards from goal – but her attempted lob cleared the bar.

Easdon smothered the ball at the feet of Delphi Cole, as the winger looked through on goal but the visitors also looked dangerous going forward. They broke the deadlock on 18 minutes when a surging run down the right from Eilidh Austin saw her cross for Olivia Potter, who smashed it home from 6 yards out.

This marked a period of pressure from Scotland, who could have added to their lead. However, they were grateful to their skipper, Kirsty MacLean who blocked a shot from Tori Almond, after an exchange of passes with Elle Elkins – just inside the visitor’s box – looked to have created an opening.

Almond’s looping overhead shot was the final chance of the first 40 minutes for the hosts, but her effort fell just wide of the post and Scotland went in with a deserved 1-0 half time lead.

It didn’t take long for Scotland to double their advantage at the start of the second half. Just two minutes had elapsed when Mikayla Wildgoose was adjudged to have fouled Emma Watson as she looked to create some space for shot in the box, and it was Watson herself who converted the spot kick for a 2-0 lead.

England now had a mountain to climb against a tough Scotland defence, Ferguson’s free-kick just avoided all attacking players in the box with Annalisa McCann collecting amongst a mass of white shirts. At the other end, Sophia Poor made a brave save at the feet of Sophia Martin to deny the striker a chance.

England Captain, Wildgoose made amends for her role in the penalty with a double goal line clearance, denying Niamh Noble and then Tiree Burchill after Sophia Poor was left stranded outside her box. Just moments later, Georgia Gray saw her shot from just inside the box whistle past Poor’s far post.

Scotland’s tails were up and they certainly looked in control, but the hosts grabbed a lifeline when Lucy Cooper was adjudged to have been fouled by Madilyn Wilson. Poppy Pritchard cooly slotted home to half the arrears with just over 10 minutes to go.

Pritchard was then denied by McCann after a fantastic through ball from Ferguson and moments later, a cross from Elkins found Sofield who got a shot away but narrowly wide of the far post.

McCann denied Pritchard again before the England number 9 missed a golden chance to level the game, when a cross from Elkins found her unmarked at the back post. However, she put her shot agonisingly wide with the goal at her mercy.

The final chance for England fell to Sofield, who saw her free-kick from the edge of the box sail just over the crossbar, leaving the Scottish players celebrating a deserved victory on the day, albeit after a frantic last 15 minutes from England.

Credit to both sides for a truly entertaining game of football, the parents and schools of the girls on show can be rightly proud of their achievements and the cap presentations that followed the game marked the end of this extended international programme for the girls – we certainly look forward to seeing their progress as footballers and young women in years to come.

A big thank you to ESFA photographer, Garry Griffiths from 353 photography for capturing the game and writing this report. A gallery from the game will be available shortly.