England SFA U18 1 Scotland SFA U18 1
Tuesday 22 April 2014By ESFA Office
Played at Blackburn Rovers FC
11th April 2014 at 7.00 pm
Last week England disposed of Northern Ireland in spectacular fashion and were looking forward to tonight’s game in the knowledge that a win would mean they would become outright winners of the Centenary Shield, but they knew that the Scots would be formidable opponents. This final game of the season for the English was also a poignant moment for Andy Buckingham who gives up his team manager’s post to Andy Blight next season, and for Nigel Brown who retires as chairman of the ESFA International Committee which he has served with great dignity for many years.
Kieron O’Hara was made England captain for the match and we were witness to an unusual start to the match as both goalkeepers were respective captains and tossed up for the kick off. The evening was warm and balmy and the pitch in perfect condition, but both sides made a nervous start with a lot of shadow boxing but little incisive attacking from either side. England finally won a corner after Mark Onyemah linked well with Oliver Brown Hill; it came to nothing but did inspire a period of sustained England pressure. Paul Braithwaite was the midfield general and following one of his delightful passes a superb cross from Tyler Lyttle on the right was met at the far post by Brady Hickey, but he was deemed to have pushed the defender before heading goalwards.
After 11 minutes we first saw the first threat from the Scots when centre back, Kyle Chalmers, stepped forward to launch a huge throw deep into the English penalty area, fortunately it went out for a goal kick. An identical throw after 13 minutes was safely nodded back to O’Hara by Danny Haile, but this was going to be an ongoing challenge for the English back line throughout the match. Little had been seen of Daniel Bruce until the 18th minute when he collected the ball outside the box and went on one of his special jinking runs, past 2 defenders into the box before the third brought him down. Penalty specialist Paul White stepped up and promptly despatched the ball into the bottom right hand corner to give England a 1-0 lead.
Bruce was brought down again 30 yards out in the 35th minute and from a beautifully struck free kick by Dean Briggs the Scottish ‘keeper hesitated and Hickey met it full on but his effort flashed past the post – a very good chance wasted. Another chance went begging just two minutes later when Brown Hill dribbled past two defenders on the left by-line, crossed into the box but it was missed by all. In this period of sustained pressure England had yet another chance in the 39th minute when Briggs crossed to Hickey but he had to stretch for the ball and it floated over the bar. Onyemah, who had faced very tight marking and physical challenges, finally found some space after dropping a little deeper and in the 40th minute beat 3 players in the midfield before releasing Brown Hill but his effort flew outside the right hand post.
Although England were clearly the better team, the Scots were always capable of surprises and in the 44th minute after Lyttle had covered a Haile misjudgement and given a throw in up stepped Chalmers for another hand-launched missile. The ball was not cleared and fell to Michael Hardie who shot low and hard, but an outstretched leg from O’Hara saved the day. England responded quickly and after a fine move involving Bruce, Lyttle, and Braithwaite, Brown Hill’s shot for goal was deflected and was going into the far corner when Christopher Liversedge raced back to scoop it away to safety.
For the second half Michael Hampson replaced Brown Hill for England, but it was the Scots who started the half with more pace and determination and the very talented Hardie took control of the middle of the park and began to dictate the game. From a Hardie free kick in the 46th minute Liversedge should have equalised but O’Hara managed to scramble the ball clear. England were forced to sit very deep and were struggling to get a kick of the ball as Hardie, Liversedge and Scott Hynd looked more and more dangerous. In the 57th minute England did retrieve the ball and Lyttle crossed from the right towards Hampson but at the last minute a defender got in and headed it for a corner. The inevitable happened in the 62nd minute when Liversedge stormed down the left, played a short ball in to Hynd who shot for goal. The ball deflected off Adam Curry and floated into the far corner for a Scottish equaliser. 1-1.
Scotland kept pressing high up the pitch denying England space but the chances they made were mostly dealt with by O’Hara and centre backs Curry and Haile. At last after 71 minutes England got good possession of the ball and after a spell of 8 to 10 passes the ball ended with Oneymah in the box, he turned for goal but as he pulled the trigger Hynd made a terrific recovery tackle and put the ball out for a corner. Tom Devitt replaced Lyttle after 76 minutes but England continued to be forced further back into their half leaving Oneymah alone and exposed up front. In the 81st minute Hickey was replaced by local boy and centre forward Ryan Charnley as manager Buckingham went for the win but this failed to halt the tide which was relentlessly flowing with Scotland. Scottish late substitute Jai Quitongo proved a box of tricks and when he raced onto a long ball which floated over the lanky White it looked all over, but he hit the side netting rather than the goal much to England’s relief. With 3 minutes of over-time played the Scots won a throw in; a last chance for a dangerous long throw but this time the ball bounced past everyone and out to safety.
England were the better team in the first half, Scotland the better in the second, so a 1-1 draw was a fair result but one which leaves the centenary shield undecided, all depending now on the Scottish result against the Republic of Ireland. Also the TSB trophy, always played for between England and Scotland, was shared. It was a pleasure to play at Blackburn Rovers FC, who could not have been more welcoming.
- 22nd :: England SFA U18 1 Scotland SFA U18 1