Football / Non-League: Finishing lesson for England

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND'S semi-professional side suffered only their third defeat this decade at Woking on Wednesday, when a Finland Under-21 team containing four full internationals were good value for their 3-1 victory.

'Playing against such a strong side gave our lads another dimension,' Tony Jennings, the England manager, said. 'In terms of chances created, however, 2-2 would have been a fairer result. When we had the ball out wide, though, we didn't deliver good crosses, and there was some naff defending going on.'

Finland's skilful centre-forward, Antti Sumiala, gave his side an early lead, but Paul Cavell, of Dagenham and Redbridge, soon equalised when he evaded the offside trap and lobbed the goalkeeper from 25 yards. Sumiala headed his second goal before the break, but the Finns were pressed back in the second half as England made and missed several chances.

The best England efforts came from Darren Collins, the Enfield forward making his debut as a substitute, who was twice denied by fine saves from Antti Niemi. On the break, Sami Vaisanen scored a third for Finland in the last minute.

Club commitments meant that Wycombe Wanderers were one of several leading clubs not represented in the England team - a problem Jennings may also face when he takes his side to Elgin to meet a Scottish Highland League XI on 15 May.

ENGLAND SEMI-PROFESSIONAL XI: Price (Stafford Rangers); Shirtliff, Watts, (both Dagenham and Redbridge), Hone (Welling), Conner (Dagenham), Butler (Northwich Victoria), Webb (Bromsgrove Rovers), Richardson (Dagenham), Robbins (Welling), Cavell (Dagenham), Hemmings (Northwich). Substitutes: Batty (Woking) for Price, h/t; Collins (Enfield) for Butler, h/t; Ross (Marine) for Hemmings, 70; Coleman (Morecambe) for Robbins, 84.

FINLAND UNDER-21: Niemi (HJK); Nuorela (Haka), Keula (TPS), Kautonen (Haka), Wallden (HJK), Hyypia (MyPa), Nurmela (Malmo), Helin (HJK), Sumiala (FC Jazz), Sulander (Kuusysi), Kangaskorpi (MP). Substitutes: Nyssonen (Haka) for Sulander, 60; Vaisanen (Haka) for Kangaskorpi, 60; Mahlio (Haka), for Nuorela, 64.

In last night's GM Vauxhall Conference game, Wycombe routed Runcorn 5-2 in front of 6,220 at Adams Park, and will take the title unless they lose all their remaining five games and Slough win their last three fixtures by huge margins. Wycombe can earn the point they need to ensure promotion to the Football League at home to Altrincham tomorrow. On Sunday, hangovers permitting, they fly to Gateshead for another league game.

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