Northern Ireland bring England back down to Earth in First Home Centenary Shield Fixture
Tuesday 28 March 2017By ESFA Office
England 1 Northern Ireland 4
Friday 24th March 2017
Torquay United FC
England were brought down to earth with a bump as an eager and energetic Northern Ireland side took their chances to claim a memorable 4-1 victory at Torquay United’s Plainmoor Ground on Friday night.
After a minutes silence in memory of the events at Westminster in midweek it was the visitors who were quickest out of the traps and took an early lead when a free-kick was laid off to the edge of the box and Caolin Coyle fired home through a crowd of players and past keeper Aidan Stone.
Despite this early setback England were on the front foot in the opening exchanges but despite some positive bursts forward from Kingsford Adjei, Max Watters and Dan Barlow, clear cut chances were limited with Barlow firing a shot into the side netting from a tight angle the closest the home side came to an equaliser.
A Minutes Silence for the recent Westminster Attack
While both sides struggled to create many clear chances or gain an upper hand in the game, Northern Ireland were looking dangerous when they broke forward and they were rewarded when a penalty, awarded after a rash challenge during a scramble in the penalty area, gave them the chance to double their lead and Eammon Scannell duly obliged, sending Aidan Stone the wrong way to put Northern Ireland in the driving seat.
Still England looked to get in behind the solid Irish defence but to no avail and they were restricted to long range shots or set pieces, neither of which the home side could make count - and they paid for it when a 3rd goal for the visitors arrived before the break.
Aidan Stone was at full stretch to parry a Ryan Strain shot from the edge of the area and the loose ball fell in front of Christopher Cane who slotted home the rebound to seemingly put the game out of reach.
England, this time, bounced back and finally got a degree of success from a set piece when the ball eventually fell to Kingsford Adjei, after some penalty box pinball, and he smashed home from six yards out to give the hosts a glimmer of hope going into the break.
The second half saw England begin on the front foot, trying to claim that second goal that would see them back in the game but it was the confident Irish who extended their lead when a Ryan Strain shot from just outside the box took a deflection that looped over Aidan Stone to put them 4-1 ahead and seemingly out of reach.
To England’s credit they never stopped looking to attack and were unfortunate not to get back into the game with Dan Bayliss heading just wide, as well as seeing his close range shot blocked by the Irish keeper, and Dan Barlow hitting the post with a fierce drive from the edge of the area.
As time ticked away the Irish were content to restrict England’s clear cut opportunities and the home side were unable to find that all important second goal that may have sparked a late rally to claim something from the game.
A delighted Irish side were worthy winners on the night with some impressive performances through the side whilst England will reflect on a frustrating night that saw them unable to build on their opening match success in Scotland.
You can watch the full match via ESFA TV on YouTube here.
Next up for England is a trip the Republic of Ireland on Thursday 13th April 2017 before returning home to finish their season with a match against Wales at Bristol Rovers on Friday 21at April 2017 - you can visit www.esfa.co.uk for details on tickets for this fixture.
Match report provided by Garry Griffiths
Images© ThreeFiveThree Photography - not to be reproduced without permission
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