Dublin Fans Friendly: Ireland Vs England
With the friendly international between Ireland and England being played at the unusual time of 1pm, our fans friendly match against the Irish supporters association had to be moved from it’s traditional slot on matchday to the day before the game.
England Team from Top Left: Barrie Tullis, Paul Newstead, Ned Pendleton, Rupert Maher, Tim Hort, Dougie Nattan, Dane Cloke (Captain), Alex Moore, Andy Hughes, Tim Shelton, Jim Gay (FA), Ed Rhodes (Gaffer)
Our match took place at Tolka Rovers AFC, about 2 miles North of Dublin city centre. Tolka are an amateur Irish football club based in Glasnevin, who play in the Leinster Senior League. With several England team regulars not flying out until Sunday the England squad was down to the bare bones when we met out host from the Irish FA, Gerry Reardon in the town centre on Saturday afternoon. The squad travelled up to the ground by bus and received a warm welcome from our opposition and our hosts at AFC Tolka. Despite being a non-league club in Dublint the facilities were excellent, especially the pitch and the bar, both of which looked in great condition!
The Irish team was made up from a variety of supporters clubs from around Ireland and the UK – many of the UK based players had travelled back home especially for the game. After the obligatory handshakes and coin toss, Ireland kicked off and immediately took the game to the visitors. A young looking Irish side look energetic and were helped in the first half by a blustery wind was blowing directly at the England’s goals For the first 10mins the English defence weathered the early storm and reduced the Irish to long range shooting from outside the box. However, as the first half continued the pressure mounted from England’s inability to get the ball out of their own half – a combination of poor passing and the strong wind preventing any distance on the long ball option!
Ireland pressed and probed and eventually broke the English resistance with a through-ball from midfield to the striker who neatly finished past debutant England keeper Dougie Nattan. Calls for offside from the English defence were overlooked by the referee who blew up to signal a goal and a 1-0 lead to the Irish. After the first goal, Ireland quickly really started to exert their pressure and extended their lead to first 2, then 3-0 following some poor defending from the visitors.
The large pitch and lack of substitutes looked to be hampering England as they puffed and panted their way into half time. Player-manager Ed Rhodes limped off with a pulled hamstring on around 20 minutes and was replaced by Andy Hughes, himself only on the bench due to an injury. One of the few positives from the first half was the excellent debut performances from 58 year old keeper Dougie Nattan and left Leeds based midfielder Mike Sheldon. Mike in particular was able to provide some much needed respite for the English defence by running at his Irish full back and working the ball up to Alex Moore and Paul Newstead, who, up until this point, hadn’t received much service at all from midfield.
At 3-0 down, England went into half time needing a minor miracle to get back into the game and certainly started off the second half on a positive note. The visitors managed to keep the ball better and work the ball up to Paul Newstead who held the ball up well. A tactical change at half time saw England move to a five man midfield, with Alex Moore switched to left midfield and Mike Shelton to centre midfield. Mike made up a three man partnership in central midfield with England regulars Barrie Tullis and Tim Hort and was able to exert more influence from a central position.
However, despite the good start to the second half, it was the Irish who struck first with another clinical finish, courtesy from Des Tomlinson. At this point it look like a ‘damage limitation’ exercise for England but the team battled on and got a goal back though Tim Hort who managed to squeeze the ball under the Irish keep from 20 yards out. Although the keeper got a touch, the ball trickled into the next to give England a glimmer of hope.
England again caused Ireland some trouble as a nice through-ball from midfield which put Alex Moore through on goal. As he entered the area he was clipped by the Irish defender and the referee blew up for a penalty. Alex stepped up to take the spot-kick but the keeper got down to his right to make an excellent save. The ball rebounded nicely to the Moore but the rebound was blazed over the bar – it wasn’t looking like England’s day! The Irish rounded off a superb performance by adding three additional goals to their tally to make the final score 7-1.
The game was played in great spirit and the England team were treated to a round of beers from our excellent Irish hosts. Following the game the English players all received a medal from the Irish FA and presented in return a plaque to our host from the Irish FA and Tolka AFC to show our appreciation for a great afternoon of football.
A full set of pictures from the game can be found here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskdHgPvL
If you would like to get involved in the England Fan Friendly activities please email firstname.lastname@example.org to join our email list – our next game is scheduled for matchday against Slovenia