England Schoolboys 1 – New Zealand Schoolboys 1

After an even first half,  this final game of the tour saw the New Zealand boys take the lead in the second half through striker Judd Baker,  unfortunately they couldn’t hold on to their advantage,  with the hosts equalising late in the game.


1 thought on “England Schoolboys 1 – New Zealand Schoolboys 1

    Played at AFC Wulfrunians – home of old Wolverhampton Wanderers training ground, now renamed Castlecroft Stadium. Report courtesy ESFA R 6th May 2013
    After a disappointing season as far as results go the England side hoped to go
    out on a high with this friendly against New Zealand but sadly were made to
    struggle for a draw against a well drilled and competitive New Zealand outfit.
    Maybe the beautiful summer weather had put the England boys in holiday mode and
    they had lost their competitive edge giving the ball away all too often in the
    early exchanges. Ross Bailey was returned to midfield playing alongside Connor
    McCormack who had proved the number one defender this season, but this pairing
    found it challenging to be creative and was kept under constant pressure by the
    very capable New Zealand midfield of Ben Thomas and Daniel Bowkett, both
    excellent prospects for professional football somewhere in the world.

    After 17 minutes, however, a visionary through ball from McCormack sent Jack
    Odam away but his fierce shot from the right was well saved by goalkeeper
    Cameron Hogg, the first evidence of his strength, size and agility which was to
    be a thorn in England’s side all afternoon. Ryan Fergany got into the action
    two minutes later but his vicious right footer skimmed the bar. The next ten
    minutes dissolved into a comedy of errors with neither side wanting to keep the
    ball for more than two passes, until Thomas decided for New Zealand that
    something had to change. He burst down the right and won a corner, the result a
    scramble and another corner, then again until the third corner, a delightful
    strike, was finally booted up field to safety. Gaining confidence Jared Gibbs
    joined Thomas and Bowkett in a lovely three man triangle down the right which
    sent Thomas free but he was foiled by a last ditch and perfectly timed Gani
    Nuredini tackle.

    Nearing half time Luke Donaldson was replaced by Nick Haughton adding a bit of
    craft and pace to the England attack. Haughton’s perseverance in the challenge
    caused a rebound to fall for Odam who sped towards goal, round the keeper but
    then lofted his shot over the open goal when he ought to have scored. In the
    dying minutes of the half England came to life but Haughton’s snap shot was 20
    yards was saved by Hogg diving to his left. From the corner he repeated his
    save from Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick and then from the final corner of the
    half McCormack headed firmly but just over the bar.

    The fit again Michael Pearce came into goal at half time and was quickly called
    to action by a Bowkett bullet from 30 yards out. Not to be outdone Haughton had
    a 30 yarder at the other end just fly over the crossbar, at least the game
    seemed to be livening up, but sadly it wasn’t England who benefited. In the
    57th minute sloppy play in midfield awarded the ball to Bowkett who fed an inch
    perfect pass through to centre forward Judd Baker who strode majestically into
    the box and finished powerfully hitting the ball first time into the bottom
    left corner from 15 yards out. 0-1.

    England realized at this point that they might have a fight on their hands and
    probably for the first time in the game strung 4 passes together and a corner
    was won by Fergany but Haughton’s shot from it was straight at the ‘keeper.
    Duka Ombeni came on after 52 minutes and immediately brightened up the
    afternoon with his pace over ten yards worrying the visitors who had to resort
    to stopping him in any way they could. Duka was able to bring Shaquille much
    more into the game and England at last looked more threatening. A perfect
    through pass from Robert Gilroy was met by Shaquille on the right at pace and
    his cross went to Michael Smith but the shot that followed hit a centre back
    and went out for yet another corner. Despite strenuous efforts it took until
    the 84th minute for England to finally break the deadlock. Haughton spotted
    Rhys Turner high up the field and from the half way line found him with a super
    through ball – Turner’s pace took him past a central defender and round the
    advancing ‘keeper and he slotted comfortably into the empty net. 1-1.

    Shaquille and Duka both had half chances as time faded, but it was New Zealand’s
    Bowkett and then Baker who could have won the game. In the end it was a fair
    result for two tired sides.

    This match was the end of a long tour for New Zealand and by the time this
    report reaches the ESFA website they will be home. ESFA chairman, Neil Pont,
    paid tribute to Tony Ambrose the leader of the tourist party who is retiring
    from teaching, his school was wiped out in the Christchurch earthquake, and
    from running the New Zealand SFA tours. He has arranged 6 tours over the last
    12 years and has been a fantastic ambassador for schools soccer in New

    For the second year in succession we have held a game against southern
    hemisphere opposition at AFC Wulfrunians and they have provided a splendid
    pitch and been superb hosts each time.

    After the match the England squad were presented with their caps by the ESFA
    chairman at a luncheon at the nearby Manor Hotel. A lovely occasion where
    players, team management, selectors and ESFA officers were joined by parents
    and families.

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