Euro U17s: Johnstone gets his chance but Young Lions make early exit
Posted by nickogs20 on May 13, 2009
England’s U17 side have crashed out of the 2009 UEFA European U17 Championships, missing out on a place at this year’s FIFA U17 World Cup in the process, after a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Turkey in their final group game.
United midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe, who had featured in England’s first two games, missed out the crunch clash with the Turks due to injury, but Reds goalkeeper Sam Johnstone made his first start of the tournament, having deputised for Norwich’s Jed Steer against both Holland and hosts Germany. England went into the game needing a comprehensive win to give themselves a chance of finishing in second place in the group and progressing to the knockout stages, while the only thing Turkey had to play for was third place in the group and a place at the U17 World Cup.
The game was an even one, Turkey seeing plenty of possession (without giving Johnstone a great deal to do) while England perhaps created the better chances, Arsenal’s Benik Afobe being among those guilty of spurning the opportunities created. Turkey’s ‘keeper Deniz Mehmet, once on United’s books, foiled Afobe, Lateef Ellford-Alliyu and Jacob Walcott with smart saves.
As the clock ticked down and the game entered its last ten minutes, the likelihood of John Peacock’s young side recording the 3-0 win required to climb above Holland and into second place receded into ‘slim to none’ territory, but England at least had third place and World Cup qualification to fall back on… that is until forward Furkan Seker seized on a loose ball in the English box, rounded Johnstone and rolled into the unguarded net to break English hearts and assure Turkey of their place in the World Cup in Nigeria later this year.
Huge disappointment for England, but Peacock’s squad was the youngest at the Championships, with several players stepping up from the U16s and still eligible for next year’s tournament. That lack of experience and development ultimately told, but may stand the Young Lions in good stead heading into next season. For Tunnicliffe and Johnstone, two of those still eligible for the U17 side next year, the experience of tournament football will be terrific experience for them as they head into their first season as full-time scholars with United.
As for this tournament, Switzerland will face the Netherlands and Italy will take on Germany in the semi-finals to decide who will contest the final, to be held in Magdeburg this coming Monday.