East Algarve FC (EAFC) over 50s took on the might of the England over 50s team in a friendly on May 27th at the FC Ferreiras Stadium, near Albufeira.
Under a cloudless sky and with a relentless heat, EAFC’s squad of 16 players girded their loins for a tough test against the touring national side who were preparing for the upcoming home internationals.
Under the watchful eye of manager-for-the-day Mick Coleman the team started with intent, but the quality of the opposition was always there to see. Misplaced passes and a failure to keep possession early on was telling, and it was no great surprise when England took the lead on 14 minutes with a neat finish by Barry Hayles (yes, that Barry Hayles, the former Jamaican international and premier league striker with Fulham). Nevertheless, EAFC battled hard and improved as the game progressed before a double whammy of two quick goals in 5 minutes near the end of the first half by Simon Deakin for England put the game pretty much out of sight.
England made wholesale changes for the second half (a luxury not possible for EAFC), but EAFC again showed their resilience by playing the ball around nicely when they were allowed a bit of time, before two second half penalties for England (converted by Stacey Dawes and the England Manager Steve Edkins) produced a comfortable final score of 5-0 to England.
The quality of the England squad was very apparent from the start, but EAFC battled bravely to keep the score reasonable, aided by the eccentric David Devito drafted into goal at the last minute producing some great blocks and saves. Toby Robinson came closest to scoring for EAFC with a superb long range effort late on that went narrowly wide, but there were other chances as well where we tried to pass the ball into the net when an early shot might have paid off.
The main positive was the attitude of all the EAFC players; everyone did their best for the full 90 minutes, and there were no dropped heads or lack of effort from anyone. All 16 squad players got some minutes (some more than others due to the heat and fitness issues) and everyone seemed to enjoy the test.
A few beers and a chat with the England team afterwards finished a great day off very nicely.
A gallery of action shots (thanks to Steve Johnson for these pictures):