Monday and Tuesday saw action at Reserve and International level, where Aston Villa’s Ciaran Clark captained England’s Under-20s on their way to a 2-0 victory over Italy at Loftus Road.
Clark opened the scoring midway through the first half with a crashing header from a cross by his club team-mate Marc Albrighton. A Daniel Sturridge goal in the second half secured the win in which Ben Amos kept a second half clean sheet. The first Under-20 fixture for the Three Lions since 2005 also saw Ben Mee get a fifteen-minute cameo, replacing Chelsea’s on-loan left-back Ryan Bertrand.
One age-group up, the Under-21s fell to a 2-0 defeat to a good French team at Nottingham Forest’s City Ground. Jack Rodwell and Daniel Welbeck both made substitute appearances – Rodwell making his debut – in what was a disappointing night for Stuart Pearce’s boys. The new look theFA.com covered a feature on Rodwell before the game.
There was better luck for John Bostock and Jose Baxter, who as part of the Under-17s secured a third straight win to soar into May’s Finals in Germany. Bostock played the entire 2-0 win over Hungary, whilst Baxter was rested, with qualification all but sewn up.
In league football, Jonathan Obika continued a fairytale season by scoring his second goal for Yeovil in as many games to give his new loan team another vital 1-0 victory. The Tottenham-owned striker scored with eleven minutes remaining to edge past Northampton to take the Glovers three points ahead of the Cobblers in the relegation zone.
Monday night sees the vast majority of Reserve football in England, and Federico Macheda led the way with a sublime hat-trick in a 3-3 draw with Newcastle. Elsewhere, Aston Villa failed to seize the chance to secure the FA Premier Reserve League South title for the second season in a row with their second defeat of the season, falling 2-1 to Tottenham. Nathan Delfouneso had a first half goal disallowed before his team took the leader, but Nathan Baker conceded a penalty to allow the visitors to level, and a second penalty won it for Spurs.
Paris Cowan-Hall returned to form with the only goal in Portsmouth’s 1-0 win over West Brom. Alongside fellow list members Gauthier Mahoto (a substitute) and Gael N’Lundulu, he impressed and scored a close-range tap-in just before half time. All three played well, with Mahoto especially in fine creative form.
Richie Smallwood captained Middlesbrough’s reserves to a 3-0 victory over Bolton to take them off the bottom of the table. The third-year provided a free-kick assist to Seb Hines for the second goal, and Jason Steele kept a clean sheet at the other end.