Ashikodi And Noble Inspire England Under-19s

A SECOND-half double from West Ham United striker Moses Ashikodi gave England Under-19s a convincing victory over Switzerland at a the Causeway Stadium.

Hammers midfielder Mark Noble was captain of the side, while Ashikodi, who has just returned from a loan spell at Gillingham, was introduced to devestating effect as a second-half substitute.

England created a lot of chances but relied on goals in the final half an hour to confirm a deserved 2-0 victory which sets Martin Hunter's side up perfectly for next year's European Championship qualifiers.

Though the home side dominated most of the play in the first period, they were frustrated by an inability to convert good chances into goals. Wingers Adam Johnson of Middlesbrough and Southampton's Nathan Dyer were the most impressive performers in a white shirt as England looked to stretch their opponents in the wide areas.

Just short of the half hour mark, Crewe Alexandra's Billy Jones made a great run from right back and passed in to captain Mark Noble.  Rather than take on a shot, Noble elected to pass through to Garner but crowded out it was eventually Jones whose effort was blocked.  Johnson curled in a perfect corner from the right which missed a group of players jumping at the near post, struck the knee of Micah Richards, deflected towards goal and was cleared off the line by Christophe Lambert.

The Swiss were in truth fortunate to be level at the interval and they very nearly fell behind within moments of the restart when Richards again went close.

Just before the hour came maybe the turning point in the match when West Ham's Moses Ashikodi replaced Joe Garner. He immediately added a cutting edge to the attack and England suddenly started to look dangerous every time England came forward. Within moments Noble did manage to slip a pass through to Ashikodi, whose first touch brought the ball under control but he was denied thanks to a solid piece of goalkeeping from Huber. 

On 68 minutes England finally made the breakthrough and got the goal that their enterprising efforts fully deserved and it was that man Ashikodi who supplied the finish. Nathan Doyle's long cross-field pass from deep was only half cleared by the Swiss defence and was picked up on the edge of the area by Anthony Grant.  He surged into the box and then flicked a pass inside to Ashikodi who showed excellent awareness to turn inside his man and slot a low shot past the onrushing goalkeeper. 

England got their second goal and made the game safe seven minutes from the end when Ashikodi showed good awareness to latch on to a loose ball in the penalty area. A ball over the top of the Swiss defence was collected by the energetic Dyer. The Saints flyer intelligently delayed his cross to allow support to arrive and then passed in to Gavin Rothery at the near post.  The Leeds man couldn't quite bring the ball under control but as the ball span loose in the area, Ashikodi steamed in and smacked the ball past Huber into the bottom corner of the net to secure a good 2-0 victory for England and a great night for the Hammers.

England: Ben Alnwick - Sunderland (Joe Hart - Shrewsbury Town), Billy Jones - Crewe Alexandra (Nathan Doyle - Derby County), Ben Parker - Leeds United, Gary Roberts - Crewe Alexandra, Micah Richards - Manchester City, David Wheater - Middlesbrough, Nathan Dyer - Southampton (Levi Porter - Leicester City), Anthony Grant - Chelsea, Joe Garner - Blackburn Rovers (Moses Ashikodi - Gillingham, Mark Noble - West Ham United, capt. (Richard Stearman - Leicester City), Adam Johnson - Middlesbrough
Subs not used: Nathan Ashton - Charlton Athletic, Gavin Rothery - Leeds United