Football: Grayson sparks England win
Friday 05 March 1999
On a mostly waterlogged pitch which would surely have been declared unplayable if the opposition had travelled from, say, Romford instead of Rome, England fully deserved their 4-1 win over the Italian Serie C Under-21 side. Stronger and more experienced, the home team adapted far better to the conditions and produced a display full of purpose and commitment.
Cheltenham Town's Neil Grayson was rewarded for a hard-working performance up front for England with two fine goals, one a diving header and the other a shot calmly lifted over the Italian goalkeeper.
After Grayson's strikes early in each half, England took a three-goal lead when Thierry Cavazzana slid the ball into his own net under pressure from Dale Watkins. Hayes' Lee Charles delighted the home crowd by leaping high to head in a fourth goal before Vincenzo Iaquinta's well-struck shot provided the Italians with a deserved consolation goal.
In recent years, the England semi-pro side has provided some distinguished graduates, such as Leicester's Steve Guppy, Birmingham's Paul Furlong and West Bromwich Albion's Lee Hughes. A similar supply of young talent from the current England team seems much less likely, though, due to the selection by the manager, John Owens, of a number of experienced former Football League players.
Grayson, formerly of Northampton and Chesterfield, was joined in the England side by Mark Yates (Cheltenham, ex-Birmingham), Warren Patmore (Yeovil, ex-Northampton), Gary Butterworth (Rushden, ex-Peterborough), Gary Patterson (Kingstonian, ex-Shrewsbury) and Andy Comyn (Hednesford, ex-Aston Villa, Derby and Plymouth). All are unlikely to return to League football.
When it was put to Owens that his representative side might be better served by players with more of a genuine non-League background, he said: "The selection criteria is not fixed. There is no age limit and I want to mould the squad into a team fit to represent England." The manager added that Grayson had been "full of energy and enthusiasm" and, like his team-mates, was eager to play for his country - an opinion that the watching Cheltenham manager, Steve Cotterill, proudly agreed with.
"I thought Grayson was outstanding and, for me, he was vying with Butterworth for man of the match," Cotterill said. England have two more internationals this season: away to the Netherlands on 30 March in Genemuiden and a home game at a venue not yet fixed against Wales on 23 May.
ENGLAND SEMI-PROFESSIONAL XI (v Italy) (3-5-2): Book (Cheltenham); Danzey (Woking), Smith (Stevenage), Ryan (Southport); Shaw (Doncaster), Patterson (Kingstonian), Butterworth (Rushden), Yates (Cheltenham), Underwood (Rushden); Grayson (Cheltenham), Patmore (Yeovil). Substitutes: Charles (Hayes) for Patterson, 55; Watkins (Cheltenham) for Patmore, 55; Wormull (Dover) for Shaw, 74; Comyn (Hednesford) for Danzey, 74; Gothard (Dagenham & Redbridge) for Book, 74.
Latest in Sport
Manchester City vs Manchester United combined XI: No place for Yaya Toure... or any United defenders
EXCLUSIVE: F1 heading for eastern revolution as new team emerges from Romania
Impressive Kurt Zouma may save Chelsea millions by replacing John Terry
Daniel Sturridge injury: Liverpool striker suggests problems could be linked with 'Caribbean vibes'
Capital One Cup fifth-round draw: Chelsea meet Derby, Tottenham face Newcastle, Liverpool travel to Bournemouth
- 1 2015 General Election: Green party will not appear in TV debate alongside Ukip – says BBC
- 2 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 3 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
- 4 North Korean officials 'publicly executed for watching South Korean soap operas'
- 5 Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
Nigel Farage and Frankie Boyle clash over Andrew Lawrence's 'Mock the Week' criticism
£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...
£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Glou...
£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...
£45 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Preston: We are looking for an experienc...