Milner Breakthrough Ensures England U-21 Victory

Ireland held out for 60 minutes against a superior England Under-21 side, before Stephen O’Halloran deflected James Milner’s low cross into his own net.


James Milner scored one and should be given credit for another

But it really should have been Milner’s goal since the deflection was slight, to say the least, but that was the breakthrough the England side needed, to register their 6th win in 7 games in their group play and almost assure themselves of a play-off spot in the next phase of the European Under-21 Championships for 2008.

The pitch at St. Mary’s in Southampton was a little soggy, and affected England’s slick passing game in the first half, and with some good solid defending from the young Irishman, they ensured the scores were still 0-0 at the break.

England came out attacking in the second half and it was Newcastle’s James Milner’s effort that caused the breakthrough, although why James wasn’t given the goal is a bit of a mystery to us. We think they’re going too far with own goals these days.

Just to show he can still put them in with no help, the impressive Milner scored England’s second, with a beautiful low drive to the goalkeeper’s right, after 68 minutes.

The scoring was complete when Theo Walcott, who was a former Southampton player, scored an excellent third goal, as England caught Ireland short at the back, with a quick breakaway.

But it still took a terrific save from young Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart to keep the clean sheet, as he beat out a shot that looked like a certain goal. This boy looks better every time we see him and he’s just still 20.

In the 7 games England have played in the group, Hart has conceded a single goal, and that was a penalty in their last game in Portugal, when they drew 1-1. That’s also the only points England have dropped in the tournament qualifying rounds, with just one game to play against Portugal in a few months time.


Steven Taylor – England captain looked solid as a rock tonight

Wheater and Taylor looked sold at the heart of the England defense, and surely England must stand a good chance of winning this tournament in the summer. The side is packed full of players with Premiership experience like Taylor, Milner, Hart, Wheater, Huddlestone, Lennon, Walcott and Gardner – amongst others.

One player who impressed, and would be an excellent acquisition for Newcastle United, was young Joe Mattock of Leicester City, who is just 17 years old, and looks a future star in the making. He played left back tonight and looked very solid.

Mattock currently plays for Leicester City and stands 5’11” tall, and could still be growing. He plays as a left back or left sided midfielder, and has represented England at under 15, 16, 17, 19 and 21 levels.

We hope Dennis Wise, or one of our other recruitment executives, was either at the game or watching the game on TV. Let’s get this boy, now, before some other club beats us to him.

He’s played 22 times for Leicester City since making his senior debut in a 2-1 defeat to Norwich City on 14th April 2007.

But overall another good performance from the England boys tonight. Who says we haven’t got any talent coming through the ranks? We could even win this tournament for the first time since 1984, we are looking that good.

England U-21 coach Stuart Pearce said after the game:

“I think this win will be enough to take us into the play-offs, we feel this will get us there.”

“I’m delighted with my team. It took us a while to break them down but we learned how to be patient.”

“We never looked liked conceding and had a good cutting edge going forward.”

An excellent crowd of over 31,000 was at St. Mary’s to watch the game, and it was certainly worth watching, especially in the second half.

England U21:
Hart, Gardner, Wheater, Taylor, Mattock, Lennon, Noble (Surman 85), Muamba, Huddlestone (Jerome 79), Milner, Walcott (Johnson 85).
Subs Not Used: Lewis, Mancienne, Moore, O’Hara.

Booked: Wheater, Johnson.

Goals: O’Halloran 60 og, Milner 68, Walcott 78.

Ireland U21:
Randolph, Nolan, O’Cearuill, O’Dea, O’Halloran, O’Toole, Garvan, Quinn (Morris 83), Stokes (O’Brien 87), Clarke (Rooney 65), Andrew Keogh.
Subs Not Used: Supple, Richard Keogh, Dennehy, McFaul.

Booked: Garvan.

Att: 31,473

Ref: Jouni Hyytia (Finland).

23 comments so far

  • Tom_Toon

    Feb 5, 2008 at 10:03 PM

    Comment #1

    Fabrice Muamba, hmm, lovely englsh name there.

    At least Milner is playing well for someone.

  • obaistheman

    Feb 5, 2008 at 10:13 PM

    Comment #2

    tom toon your an ass

  • Andy1

    Feb 5, 2008 at 10:20 PM

    Comment #3

    Milner played really well tonight although I thought he did his best work in more central positions. He grew in confidence after the goal and got much more of the ball. His delivery from wide areas though continues to frustrate. I think he could become a good box to box midfielder because he is a strong runner, has great workrate and good fitness.

  • big pea ov the weab

    Feb 5, 2008 at 10:31 PM

    Comment #4

    a think he may need a bit of a confidence boost kk should try him in diferent positoins

  • ronaldeano

    Feb 5, 2008 at 10:38 PM

    Comment #5

    Never thaught of playing Milner as an attacking midfielder? might work?

  • Tripp

    Feb 5, 2008 at 10:52 PM

    Comment #6

    Perhaps next season he could be groomed in that role. Right now we need to find something that works and stick to it so that we can get as many points as possible. Perhaps it’s worth a try if we can’t find anything better. We may have to resort to it if wor Joey lands in prison in a month’s time.

  • ToonKing

    Feb 5, 2008 at 10:52 PM

    Comment #7

    Looks like Mickey is out of England!! Sweet news indeed.

  • Sinead

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:19 PM

    Comment #8

    Ah we were terribly unlucky, the scoreline flattered England. There was some great defending, lots of potential there all around the park. Each side had a lot of chances it just came to down to who managed to finish them. Unlucky lads.
    Oh for the record Milner’s one, the other one was a deflection off O’Halloran (haven’t seen him since Ramblers won the League..brillant day). It flew in, kinda unlucky. Poor Hally, sound out, won u21 FAI player of the year, Ireland got young player of the year, both young lads from Cobh, that added to the grooming of Keane who again I haven’t seen since in Ramblers club over a few years ago now if that was before or after the Man U 11 v Ramblers, I can’t remember, meh doesn’t really matter.

    What was I talking about, oh ya. Milner’s goal was a good enough one though, good finishing, went in off the post. Lucky win for ye all right. Flattering score. Well done anyway. Hard fought win.

  • Sinead

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:20 PM

    Comment #9

    And now I just read the part of the topic that said O’Halloran scored the own goal, lol!! Ah well. Never mind.

  • Dragoner

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:28 PM

    Comment #10

    not being funny, but this aint much of an achievement is it, we got a realy good young squad, ireland arent really good are they?

  • gloryhunter

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:31 PM

    Comment #11

    Nowt to do with this particular thread but anal oliver has just been on Soccr Night on TTT with Rogers Tams. God, I never realised he was so ugly. It’s on now – see Darlo in action

  • Astidores Sanchez Blanco

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:32 PM

    Comment #12

    Joe Mattock is a sound prospect and we should attempt to sign him. We need a left back at the moment to compete with Enrique and allow N’Zogbia to flourish further up the park.

  • Leo*

    Feb 6, 2008 at 12:33 AM

    Comment #13

    sinead, inpartial as ever i guess…. NOT

  • Leo*

    Feb 6, 2008 at 12:35 AM

    Comment #14

    we have tozer and kadar that will be able to play left back soon, i say get an experienced left back to teach enrique etc… someone like ricardo gardner or matt taylor, shame we didnt get him


    Feb 6, 2008 at 2:58 AM

    Comment #15

    LEO hav yee been on the pop? Ricardo Gardner!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Bill F

    Feb 6, 2008 at 10:12 AM

    Comment #16

    Dragoner, Well according to Sinead they are the Celtics lands version of Brazil, so we did really well to beat them. 🙂

    Gloryhunter, perhaps we should feel sorry for poor old Anal. Can’t write, no looks, suffering from PDD (personality Deficiency Disorder). Would anyone want to be him.

  • Leo*

    Feb 6, 2008 at 11:07 AM

    Comment #17

    geordie69, i really think that he is a good left back, can attack and defend well, knows how to defend compared to some of our past left back, obviously i would love to have bridges or riise but thats not going to happen

    enrique would be my number one but he needs to learn

  • Sinead

    Feb 6, 2008 at 11:34 AM

    Comment #18

    Bill F..never said that, I said they defended well. Our U21 team was never that great. Great players all right they can never seem to make it click as a team though.

  • Bill

    Feb 6, 2008 at 11:54 AM

    Comment #19

    Good to see some quality performances from Milner and Taylor. This will give them the confidence to do even better for the toon.

  • Mr T

    Feb 6, 2008 at 11:57 AM

    Comment #20

    I like enrique, just needs to find his feet and some stability. Much like Jimmy whose been played on the left, and on the right, and on the left again, back on the right….Just play the boy on the right wing, and he’ll do the business again.

    Glad Psycho’s doing well for the u-21’s, that man deserves a break after City, were so ‘City’ to him.

    Taylor and Wheater is a pretty formiddable defence like!

  • Bill F

    Feb 6, 2008 at 12:36 PM

    Comment #21

    I know Sinead it was just a little mickey take. I really love your home grown comments. 😉

  • Gooderz

    Feb 6, 2008 at 12:53 PM

    Comment #22

    We could still sign Mattock as well as having Tozer and Kadar as those two can play CB and Mattock can also be pushed further forward, so all three could play in the same side.

    As for the Milner-central role suggestion. Someone mentioned that the other day (I can’t remember who), but it is something that could be looked at. He’s able to create little bits of space for himself, he’s not afraid to try something different, and he’s got two good feet with which to pass or shoot.

    The only doubts I would have are over his tackling ability and positional sense in the centre of the park. But to find that out, we’d need to give him a go.

    Of course it would enable us to bring in a winger with pace and crossing ability whilst also freeing up the wing, which is a good place to play attacking prospects such as LuaLua, Godsmark or bring through a young signing like Giles Barnes.

  • David

    Feb 6, 2008 at 2:53 PM

    Comment #23

    SUrprised Ireland did so well see as all our U-21’s decent players play for the full squad. Score line as a bit flattering though………………… Where have i heard that before!!!


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