England Under 18 Boys get back on track
Thursday 20 April 2017By ESFA Office
England bounced back from their home defeat to Northern Ireland in Torquay just under 3 weeks ago to record another emphatic victory away from home when they faced the Republic of Ireland at Home Farm on Thursday evening.
On a near perfect evening for football, both sides took to the field knowing that victory was a must to keep alive their dreams of a share of the Centenary Shield crown for 2017 with Northern Ireland having beaten Wales the previous evening in Cardiff meaning their 9 point haul could only be matched by one of these two teams.
The visitors started well and were clearly in the mood to make up from their previous performance with Jean Luc Ramdin looking lively down the right hand side and the the usual menacing runs of Danny Barlow, Frank Arhin and Kingsford Adjei putting the Irish defence on the back foot.
Despite this promising start, chances were few and the home side had already caused a few nervous moments in the England box from set pieces and it was from one such instance that Ireland went ahead in the 13th minute when Evan Murphy struck home following a Ronan Manning corner.
England battled back in an attempt to draw level with Frank Arhin looking increasingly dangerous but the final ball in the final third saw numerous promising passages of play come to nothing - until Dan Barlow stepped up with the goal of the night.
He picked up the ball in midfield and struck a rising shot into the top corner that drew England level - only to concede again straight from the re-start.
John Martin was put through one on one with Aidan Stone with the defence flat footed and he slotted the ball under the advancing keeper to immediately restore the home sides advantage.
The Irish missed a couple of opportunities to extend their lead before the break and they were chances they would rue as England dominated the second 45 minutes.
Dan Barlow was on hand to play a huge part in the equaliser when his hard and low cross into the box struck a defender and left the Irish keeper stranded to tie the score at 2-2.
The visitors were now playing some fantastic high tempo football and had the home side on the back foot with Barlow firing just wide and Jean Ramdin almost stabbing the ball home from an Adjei pass across the six yard box - before the latter put England ahead shortly after.
Max Watters had replaced Jack Butler just minutes earlier giving England another attacking wide player to utilise and when Watters made a run to the byline and hit a low cross into the six yard box, Adjei was on hand to tap the ball home for his 6th goal of this Centenary Shield campaign.
With two minutes, Watters was on the scoresheet himself when a Barlow cross found him unmarked on the edge of the box and he coolly slotted the ball past the keeper to give England a commanding 4-2 lead - and one they never looked like giving up.
Irish opportunities were limited due to a near faultless second period for the visitors and the only thing left was for someone to ice the cake, the honour falling to Max Watters who was given time and space to run on goal and slide the ball into the far corner and complete a magnificent second half.
The win now gives England 6 points with one game to play and a win against Wales in their final game will guarantee a share of the Centenary Shield for the season.
That match against Wales will take place at Bristol Rovers FC on Friday 21st April 2017 with a 7pm kickoff and you can visit www.esfa.co.uk for details on tickets for this fixture.