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Published 08 June 2023 4 min read
England Para Teams

England Cerebral Palsy book their place in the IFCPF European Championship final

Written by:

Frank Smith

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Two goals from David Porcher and a strike by Will Ramsay help England CP to a 3-1 win over the Republic of Ireland

England Cerebral Palsy have reached the IFCPF European Championship final for the first time after a 3-1 win over the Republic of Ireland.

David Porcher’s twelfth and thirteenth goals of the tournament and a late strike from Will Ramsay helped them edge an enthralling end-to-end semi-final at the CFF Tino Carta in Sardinia.

The Para Lions will now have to wait until this evening to see who they will face, with the number one side in the world Ukraine taking on Spain.

England CP head coach Andy Smith made one change to the team that beat the Netherlands 2-0 in their final group match, as young striker Jayden Kenyon, who only joined the Para Lions player pathway a year ago, came in for the experienced James Blackwell.

England CP were put under early pressure by the Republic of Ireland as they managed to find a couple of openings early on.

Andy Smith made one alteration to his starting line-up, with Jayden Kenyon coming into the side.
Andy Smith made one alteration to his starting line-up, with Jayden Kenyon coming into the side.

But with just four minutes on the clock, England CP took the lead. At a corner, the ball was worked out to Porcher and his strike from distance was too powerful for the goalkeeper to hold. Liam Irons’ back-heeled follow-up was saved but he recycled the ball, found Kenyon and his composure saw it laid on a plate for Porcher to thump home.

Kenyon almost teed up Porcher for another less than a minute later but the former Hibernian academy player dragged his effort wide of the post.

His second did arrive in the eighth minute though. Captain Matt Crossen continues to be a class act and it was his challenge and then low cross which left Porcher with a simple finish to make it 2-0.

After a spell of England dominance, the Republic of Ireland enjoyed a spell of pressure which saw both Dillon Sheridan and Luke Evans drag shots wide in quick succession.

England went close to increasing their advantage after a frantic passage of play. Irons forced Mark Barry into a fine stop and then both he and Kenyon had their follow-ups cleared off the line.

08 Jun 2023 1:27:00

Full match | England CP v Republic of Ireland

Watch the Para Lions in their IFCPF EURO semi-final in Sardinia

The game was being played at a relentless pace and moments later Ireland’s Gary Messett showed great pace before hitting a shot which Giles Moore was unable to keep hold off before the goalkeeper showed impressive reactions to gather before the ball rolled over the line.

The end-to-end nature of the first half continued, with Kenyon almost grabbing his fourth goal of the tournament when he found himself one-on-one but his effort lacked the power to beat Barry in Ireland’s goal.

There was no shortage of impressive left feet on display and Ireland’s Sheridan struck a fierce free-kick which was heading towards goal before being blocked yards from the line, before Messett forced Moore into another save just before the break. 

It looked as though England would be heading into the interval two goals to the good but then a well-worked move from Ireland saw the dangerous Sheridan score from close range with one of the final kicks of the half.

Like the opening period, it was Ireland who started the second half the stronger and Moore needed to save from Messett and Sheridan early on.

David Porcher opened the scoring after five minutes
David Porcher opened the scoring after five minutes

Porcher had a quiet start to the second half but then, not long after he had a long-range strike go wide, he forced Barry into another good save.

It was then Moore’s turn as more good play from Ireland saw the ball squared to Ryan Nolan but England’s goalkeeper saved well.

The good stops didn’t stop there as Barry needed to rush out to deny Porcher his hat-trick, before the England forward sent his second effort over the bar.

England CP’s hopes of securing victory were boosted when Crossen’s goal-kick released Porcher and he was bundled to the ground by Joseph Markey when he looked set to be in on goal, which resulted in the Ireland captain receiving a straight red card.

But despite being a player down, it was Ireland who had the next chance, as Evans headed wide from close range.

Will Ramsey rounded off the win with a well-taken strike late on
Will Ramsey rounded off the win with a well-taken strike late on

Porcher and Sam Dewhirst both had shots blocked in a matter of seconds but Ireland went close to equalising twice in the dying moments, when Sheridan headed wide and then Evans had a shot that Moore needed to parry away.

Deep into injury-time, Ireland thought they should have had a penalty when Sheridan went over in the box under the challenge of Crossen, and Dewhirst almost guaranteed the win when he forced Barry to save well with his feet.

But the Para Lions all but ensured their progression when Irons slipped the ball through to substitute Ramsay and he coolly slotted the ball underneath the goalkeeper to make it 3-1.

England: 1 Giles Moore, 2 Liam Irons, 3 David Porcher, 5 Mason Dunbar, 6 Matt Crossen (c), 9 Jayden Kenyon, 12 Matthew Robinson 

Substitutes: 4 Sam Dewhirst for Kenyon 30, 7 James Blackwell for Robinson 38, 11 Will Ramsay for Porcher 60

Substitutes not used: 13 Reagan McMillan, 8 Harry Baker, 10 Aaron Lucas, 14 Ethan Day

Goals: David Porcher 5, 8, Will Ramsay 60+4