England secure record finish at World Championships
on 28-06-2015 11:48
England ended their 2015 Cerebral Palsy World Championships on a high as they beat Ireland 2-0 to secure their best-ever tournament finish.
Two moments of sheer class were the difference on the day.
Matt Crossen scored a contender for goal of the tournament and captain Jack Rutter secured the victory with a fine effort in the second half.
Although knockout by nature, the CP World Championships is a positional competition – with vital ranking points up for grabs.
After quarter-final elimination and positional victories against USA and Argentina – England and Ireland battled it out for fifth underneath the St. George’s Park sunshine.
With so much at stake for both teams – neither had finished among the world’s top five before - a tight, nervy opening could have been excused – but it was anything but.
Ireland’s former European Player of the Year Gary Messett was heavily involved from the off.
Messett is the only man so far to score against the dominant Russia side, and he soon put his wand of a left foot to use as he twice tested Giles Moore from distance.
England’s star player Rutter was keen to stamp his authority on the game, in an intriguing midfield contest between two of the competition’s top players.
Rutter could have had a first-half hat-trick had it not been for the resolute Ireland defence, who thrice thwarted his long-range, but goalbound, efforts.
But although the England captain captured the limelight in the Three Lions’ opening game with a double hat-trick, it was another England star that left the St. George’s Park crowd gasping in disbelief.
Crossen – who suffered a stroke two years ago that caused severely limited movement on his left side – picked up the ball in the middle of the field.
He drove at the Ireland defence and beat two men. However, his touch took him to the left of goal, on his weaker side.
With contortionist-like flexibility, he wrapped his right foot around the ball and expertly lobbed Simon Lestrange in the Ireland goal. Simply stunning.
If England were to go on and record their best-ever World Championships finish, it would be a fitting way to do it.
As the game progressed, Keith Webb’s side decided attack was the best form of defence, and pushed forward looking for a second.
James Blackwell went close with a low right-foot effort, but his shot curled inches wide – and appeared to flick the outside of the post.
At the other end Moore had a heart-in-mouth moment when he almost let a Jason Moran shot squirm under him.
But in truth Moore – who has been one of England’s standout performers at the Championships – was rarely threatened.
And as the sun began to set and the clock ticked towards the end, up stepped Captain Jack to fire home an exquisite effort that left the St. George’s Park crowd purring.
He cut in from the left and curled a perfect right-foot into the top corner.
He ran over to the crowd to and slid across the ground in delight.
A perfect end to a wonderful tournament.
England: 1 Giles Moore, 2 Harry Baker, 4 Matthew Crossen, 5 Jack Rutter (C), 7 Michael Barker, 8 James Blackwell, 12 Jake Brown
Substitutes: 9 George Fletcher for Brown 44. 3 Karl Townshend for Baker 56.
Substitutes not used: 6 Martin Sinclair, 11 Ollie Nugent, 13 Ryan Kay
Goals: Crossen 28. Rutter 54.
Head coach: Keith Webb
Ireland: 14 Simon Lestrange, 2 Joe Markey, 4 Luke Evans, 6 Paraic Leacy, 7 Gary Messett, 12 Ryan Nolan, 13 Jason Moran
Substitutes: 3 Darragh Snell for Leacy 22. 10 Dillon Sheridan for Nolan 50.
Substitutes not used: 1 Brian McGillivary, 5 Eric O’Flaherty, 8 Carl McKee, 9 Aaron Tier, 11 Peter Coter
Bookings: Snell. Moran. Markey. Messett.
Head coach: Gerard Glynn
Referee: Hector R Bondia