England overcome Dutch test

Newcastle United striker Adam Armstrong helped himself to two goals as an inspired comeback from England U18s blew Holland away at Leigh Sports Village.

After falling behind to Marlon Slabbekoorn’s opener, Armstrong, Josh Sims and Demetri Mitchell struck to secure a convincing win for Neil Dewsnip’s youngsters.

The sides are familiar foes having met in the European Championship Final back in May. The Young Lions included Taylor Moore, Lewis Cook, Callum Cooke and captain Ryan Ledson in their line-up from that glorious night back in Malta- with the Dutch boasting skipper Calvin Verdonk and Wellington Verloo from their ranks that evening.

England 4-1 Netherlands

International Match
Wednesday 3 September 2014
Leigh Sports Village Stadium

England began well, keeping the ball and moving their opponents around the pitch with some neat two-touch football. Ledson was dropping deep to pick up possession as a midfield diamond formed, and they zipped it between themselves as they probed the defence to create an opening.

The first almost arrived in the eighth minute, Armstrong powering forward from half way and playing Sims clean through on goal – but as the Southampton youngster prepared to pull the trigger, he was denied by a fantastic tackle from Verdonk.

Despite their high-tempo start, England fell behind on 11 minutes, somewhat against the run of play. Dael Fry’s headed clearance was collected by Alessio da Cruz, and the wide man ran into the box, attracting four defenders to him and the ball, before cutting them all out with a sideways pass that left Slabbekoorn with a clear sight of goal from ten yards – and he made no mistake firing past Sam Howes in goal.

The Lions retaliated, and Mitchell let rip with a long ranger that was spilled by the ‘keeper Stan van Bladeren – but the shotstopper recovered well to save Sims’ follow up.

Josh Sims embarks on his run that led to England

Josh Sims embarks on his run that led to England’s second goal

The first half was beginning to swing in the favour of the visitors, and they almost doubled their advantage but for some strong goalkeeping from Howes. Martijn Berden crossed from the right and Ruben de Jager rose to head goalwards. Howes saved his first effort brilliantly but did even better to react fast and save his follow-up on the line.

It proved a vital moment in the match, as with their next attack England equalised. Sims won the ball inside the Dutch half, and he played an inch-perfect ball to Armstrong, who showed his predatory instincts by firing in left footed from just inside the area to draw his side level on 24 minutes.

Armstrong then returned the favour, winning a strong tackle with Kaan Karabakal, and Sims picked up the ball to embark on a fine run past three defenders before hitting a superb individual goal past the outstretched Van Bladeren and inside the far post.

It got even better for the hosts on the stroke of half time as they stretched their lead. Skipper Ledson won a tackle and the ball fell to Armstrong who cut past a defender before firing in left-footed to grab his second of the afternoon.

Liverpool’s Sheyi Ojo was introduced to the action at the break, replacing Cooke, as the hosts began with a similar tempo to which they finished the opening 45, and they were duly rewarded on 51 minutes.

Moore embarked on a run forward from the back with the ball at his feet, but as he started to think about pulling the trigger, he was bundled to the ground by a desperate Dutch defender 25 yards from goal.

Manchester United’s Mitchell, who lives just over twenty minutes away, stepped-up to unleash a fierce left-foot drive into the top corner to make it four.

The England team prior to kick-off

The England team prior to kick-off

Armstrong came close to claiming a hat-trick on two occasions, striking over the bar from 25 yards and forcing the ‘keeper into a smart save after beating the offside trap down the right of the area.

With a hefty lead, and his side firmly in control, Dewsnip took the opportunity to give the rest of his squad some vital playing time in the lead up to Friday’s rematch at Bury.

Jordan Rossiter, Jake Clarke-Salter, Dominic Solanke, Tafari Moore, Jonjoe Kenny and Josh Onomah all entered the field of play, but it was the first sub Ojo who looked the most likely to create a fifth, his explosive pace causing all sorts of problems for the visiting defence, but his team-mates were unable to convert his assists.

A strong performance from England to kick off their season in style – but they know another tough test awaits at The JD Stadium in two days time.

England (4-3-3): 13 Sam Howes (West Ham United); 2 Mandela Egbo (Crystal Palace), 4 Dael Fry (Middlesbrough), 6 Taylor Moore (RC Lens), 3 Callum Connolly (Everton); 11 Lewis Cook (Leeds United), 9 Ryan Ledson (C) (Everton); 18 Josh Sims (Southampton), 10 Callum Cooke (Middlesbrough), 19 Demetri Mitchell (Manchester United); 16 Adam Armstrong (Newcastle United)

Subs: 17 Sheyi Ojo (Liverpool) for Cooke (45), 14 Jordan Rossiter (Liverpool) for Moore (59), 7 Jake Clarke-Salter (Chelsea) for Ledson (59), 15 Dominic Solanke (Chelsea) for Armstrong (66), 5 Tafari Moore (Arsenal) for Mitchell (66), 8 Jonoje Kenny (Everton) for Sims (81), 12 Josh Onomah (Tottenham Hotspur) for Sims (81)

Subs not used: 1 Freddie Woodman (Newcastle United)

Goals: Armstrong (24) (43), Sims (38), Mitchell (51)

Head Coach: Neil Dewsnip

Netherlands: 1 Stan van Bladeren, 2 Kaan Karabakal, 3 Rick van der Meer, 4 Calvin Verdonk (C), 5 Wellington Verloo, 6 Laros Duarte, 7 Gustavo Hamer, 8 Marlon Slabbekoorn, 9 Martijn Berden, 10 Ruben de Jager, 11 Alessio da Cruz

Subs: 16 Yanick van Osch, 12 Julian Lelieveld, 14 Hidde ter Avest, 15 Mauro Savastano, 17 Ilias Alhaft, 18 Abdelhak Nouri, 19 Segun Owobowale, 20 Joris Klein-Holte

Goal: Slabbekoorn (11)

Head Coach: Maarten Stekelenburg