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The Non-League Football Paper

England C see off Ukraine U20s in ICT opener

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Ukraine: 0

England C: 2

Guthrie 35, Jackson 44

England C: Brandon Hall (Peter Crook 90); James Bolton (Andy Halls 87), Ben Heneghan, Jack Holland, Sam Habergham; Keanu Marsh-Brown (Chez Isaac 78), Alex Woodyard, Jake Gallagher (Craig Clay 90), John Goddard, Kayden Jackson, Kurtis Guthrie (Brendon Daniels 79)

ENGLAND C kicked-off their International Challenge Trophy campaign with three points in Kiev.

First-half goals from debutants Kurtis Guthrie and Kayden Jackson got them up and running as Non-League’s Three Lions put in an impressive performance against Ukraine.

Braintree Town midfielder Alex Woodyard was handed the captain’s armband and led the way as England’s midfield controlled the game.

Boss Paul Fairclough was adamant the team needed to return home with a win and they took the lead on 35 minutes.

Woking’s John Goddard – winning his first cap – hit a free-kick that looped up off the Ukraine wall towards goal. Forest Green striker Guthrie found himself in space and calmly nodded his team into the lead.

Goddard almost made it two soon after. Winning the ball out on the left, he cut inside, swapped passes with Jackson but curled over the bar.

They didn’t have to wait long to gain a two-goal cushion, with the second arriving on the stroke of half time.

Right-back James Bolton – who reached the FA Trophy final with FC Halifax at the weekend – burst forward and took aim from the edge of the box. His shot was deflected into the path of Wrexham’s Jackson, and the in-form striker flashed the ball into the goal.

From then on, England dictated the tempo of the game, with Ukraine reluctant to press hard.

Goddard went close early on after the interval but it didn’t matter. Fairclough was able to empty his bench to ensure all players who travelled got minutes on the pitch as they saw out the game with few concerns.

England and Aldershot midfielder Jake Gallagher, winning his seventh cap, said: “It was a good all round performance. We did what the gaffer said. We pressed from the front, tried to nick the ball high up the pitch and took our chances well.

“In the second half I felt we controlled the game. I really enjoyed playing with all the lads – we came together really well in a short space of time and were all proud to pull on the England shirt.”

Defender Jack Holland said: “It was nice to get a clean sheet with the boys. Everyone got behind the game plan and put in a good shift. We couldn’t ask anymore of anyone.”

Up next for England is a home game – venue to be confirmed – against Slovakia in June. Fairclough’s boys will be looking to hedge their bets, something you can also try out on William Hill.

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