Published 07 May 2022 4 min read
England Para Teams

England CP reach World Cup quarter-finals

Written by:

Nicholas Veevers

A second-half equaliser from Matt Crossen was enough to seal a draw with the Netherlands for England CP, as they head into the last eight
England’s cerebral palsy team head into the IFCPF World Cup quarter-finals, after a 1-1 draw with the Netherlands saw them top their group stage table.
 
A second-half equaliser from substitute Matt Crossen earned the Para Lions a share of the spoils, after finding themselves a goal down at the break.
 
And a draw was the least Andy Smith’s team deserved, after dominating possession over the course of the game on the back of two impressive wins against Canada and Venezuela in their first two games.
 
The result means England will now face Iran in the first knockout stage on Monday evening (5.30pm BST kick-off) while the Dutch also head into the quarter-finals with the point enough to see them finish in second spot ahead of Canada, who had drawn 3-3 with Venezuela earlier in the day.
 
It was a cagey opening ten minutes in Salou too, before the Dutch took the lead against the run of play. 
 
With England on the attack and looking for a breakthrough, they were caught out when a high ball and subsequent challenge on the halfway line bounced in the favour of the Netherlands. The ball was moved forward and quickly played across the box, where it was teed up perfectly for Bruno Hoek to sweep home from close range.
 
The Para Lions didn’t panic though and went on to enjoy a sustained spell of possession and pressure with both James Blackwell and Sam Dewhirst looking creative on the ball.
Para Lions striker David Porcher battles for possession in England's final group game against the Netherlands
Para Lions striker David Porcher battles for possession in England's final group game against the Netherlands
However, the Netherlands remained resolute and largely protected goalkeeper Damian Schellekens while seemingly happy to try and catch England on the break.
 
Smith made changes at the break though and England emerged for the second half with Crossen on for Blackwell and Ryan Kay in place of ‘keeper Reegan McMillan, having already introduced Harry Baker for David Porcher just before the break.
 
And the switch paid dividends too, as Crossen brought England level with just over 15 minutes of the game remaining. Picking up the ball in his own half, a strong run forward and long-range shot from Crossen was parried by Schellekens, leading to a scramble in the box. The ball was clipped back across goal by Mason Dunbar to the far post, where Crossen arrived to volley home into the roof of the net.
 
The Para Lions almost found a winner soon after that, when Baker’s acrobatic volley in the area whistled just over the bar after a flowing move before that.
 
Dewhirst then stung the hands of Schellekens with a fierce long-ranger which was tipped over the bar as England went in search of a second goal to make it three from three in the group stage.
 
But the Netherlands held out and it was clear from their celebrations at full time that they were the happier of the two teams with the result.
 
England: 13 Reegan McMillan, 3 David Porcher (c), 5 Matthew Robinson, 8 Sam Dewhirst, 9 Mason Dunbar, 10 Aaron Lucas, 11 James Blackwell
 
Substitutes: 4 Harry Baker for Porcher 30, 14 Ryan Kay for McMillan 31, 6 Matt Crossen for Blackwell 31, 12 Cameron Osburn for Lucas 58
 
Substitutes not used: 1 Giles Moore, 2 Liam Irons
 
Goals: Matt Crossen (46)
 
Head coach: Andy Smith