England progress despite New York Stadium setback

ENGLAND suffered their first defeat of the European U17s Championships at the AESSEAL New York Stadium but still did enough to go through to the quarter-finals.

A goal late in the first half from Felix Mambimbi sentenced Steve Cooper’s Young Lions to a 1-0 defeat to Switzerland but they progressed by virtue of head-to-head results in Group A.

Steve Cooper’s Young Lions will play Norway in the last eight at Burton on Sunday while Group winners Italy face Sweden. That match is back at the NYS on Sunday (2pm).

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Watched by a crowd of more than 6,000, including Rotherham United manager Paul Warne, England showed plenty of promise and created plenty of chances but let themselves down in front of goal.

Swiss goalkeeper Lucio Soldini kept his team in the game in the opening half-hour, thwarting Arvin Appiah and Bukayo Saka and then showing good reflexes to deny Folarin Balogun from no more than five yards out.

England couldn’t keep up the momentum and were relieved to see Bledian Krasniqi hammer a decent chance into the side netting. The red shirted attacker also got in behind the defence to thrash in an angled shot that was heading for goal until stopper Luca Ashby-Hammond stuck out a hand to divert it away.

The visitors capped their improvement with a goal right on half time. A corner broke for  Mambimbi  on the edge of the box and he planted the ball into the top corner with the aid of a deflection.

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Knowing there was a danger of going out of the tournament, England came out for the second half looking much sharper.

Fans take in at the action at the AESSEAL New York Stadium. Pics: DAVE POUCHER

Appiah should have scored within 30 seconds, crashing a near post shot into the advertising hoardings when he should have at least hit the target. Appiah also cut in and fired straight at the keeper and there was more frustration when Faustino Anjorin outjumped the stopper but saw his header bobble agonisingly wide of a post.

Somebody in white needed to come up with a goal but as the half wore on the chances dried up, the best a 20-yard effort from skipper James Garner that flashed just wide.

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Due to the complicated head-to-head sytem, there was confusion among the crowd before it became clear England had gone through. Their progress is good news for the tournament and the remaining matches at the NYS. For the Swiss, going out having beaten the host nation was a bitter pill to swallow.

England (4-4-2): 1 Luca Ashby-Hammond (Fulham); Dylan Crowe (Ipswich), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ajibola-Joshua Alese (West Ham), Ethan Laird (Man Utd); Arvin Appiah (Nottm Forest), Thomas Doyle (Man City), Folarin Balogun (Arsenal), James Garner (Man Utd); Faustino Anjorin (Chelsea), Xavier Amaechi (Arsenal)

Subs: Marcus Dewhurst (Sheffield United), Nathaneal Ogbeta (Man City), Tyreece John-Jules (Arsenal), Vontae Daley-Campbell (Arsenal), Elijah Dixon-Bonner (Liverpool), Bobby Duncan (unattached), Trae Coyle (Arsenal), Matty Daly (Huddersfield Town).

Referee: Horatiu Fesnic (Romania)

Attendance: 6,146