Tunnicliffe shines as England U17s take runners-up spot
Posted by nickogs20 on September 1, 2008
United schoolboy Ryan Tunnicliffe was the star for England U17s as John Peacock’s side finished second behind the impressive Portuguese in the FA International Tournament.
The four-team tournament kicked off last Wednesday with the young Lions taking on Portugal at Rushden & Diamonds’ Nene Park home. Tunnicliffe struck the post after six minutes and on thirteen minutes gave the hosts a deserved lead, picking himself up after being fouled to fire home a 25-yard freekick. Somewhat against the run of play Portugal took the lead with goals either side of the half-time interval, and despite the best efforts of Tunnicliffe, his United team-mate Zeki Fryers and the likes of Spurs’ midfielder John Bostock, England couldn’t rally to earn a point that would have been more than deserved.
Peacock shuffled his pack and both Tunnicliffe and Fryers were on the bench for last Friday night’s second game against Israel at Peterborough’s London Road. Fryers was unused but Tunnicliffe was introduced with twenty minutes remaining and saw fellow substitute Jacob Walcott score the only goal of the game with just three minutes left on the clock to give England a deserved victory.
Italy awaited in the final game, both teams going into the match last night level on 3 points apiece and with only second place in the tournament to play for after Portugal made it three wins from three against Israel earlier in the day. Tunnicliffe and Fryers were recalled to the starting lineup and the former almost set up the opening goal within the first few minutes, Walcott seeing his powerful effort rebound off the woodwork after latching onto Tunnicliffe’s clever pass.
It was the United man instead who gave England the lead himself on 27 minutes, Bostock, Walcott and Fulham’s Keanu Marsh-Brown combining on the counter-attack to give Tunnicliffe a chance to open the scoring that he wasn’t going to pass up. A scrappy second-half followed, with players on both sides noticeably flagging in their third game in five days, and the game looked to be petering out to a 1-0 win for England when Italy keeper Ranieri brought down Cameron Park of Middlesbrough in the last minute, giving Tunnicliffe the chance to add some gloss to the scoreline from the penalty spot. The 15 year-old’s kick was saved by Ranieri but the Reds’ youngster tucked away the rebound for his third goal in the three games.
Second place behind a strong Portuguese side who they more than matched in the opening game will be a big boost for the young Lions going into their European U17 qualifying round involving Spain, Armenia and Estonia in October, when both Tunnicliffe and Fryers are likely to be involved once again.