Sunday 28th March 2004

Aslett thrilled to play for England despite losing to the Irish

Go Travel Kent League Premier Division side, Whitstable Town midfielder Steve Aslett admitted he was thrilled playing for England's under eighteen game against Republic of Ireland at Northampton Town's Sixfield Stadium, even though the Irish side won 1-0 and England missed a late penalty, writes Tony Rouse.

Speaking after the game, Aslett, said: "It wasn't our best performance, but it was our first competative game as a team and I think we can improve 100% on tonight's game.

"The Irish were a strong side and the conditions were energy sapping, you saw a number of the Irish lads going down with cramp and my hamstring tightened with about ten minutes to go.  I was going to take the penalty, which I have been doing in training, but I've missed quite a few so had second thoughts.  As it turned out it was saved and I wish now I had taken it.  Their goalkeeper made a great save at a crucial time as the penalty came in our best spell of the game but we have some good games coming up, it's a very exciting time for me and I am enjoying it."

In the first half Aslett started as a holding central midfielder and England's constant long ball approach by-passed the Whitstable Town midfielder for much of the game and he saw very little of the ball.

In the second half, however, Aslett had much more of the game and from the kick off, playing as the midfield link man behind two strikers,  England started to pull their game together without the cutting edge of the Irish, to many misplaced passes and over hit balls let them down time and again.

The Irish in contrast kept the ball on the floor with Connor Sammon and David Braken up front they were a constant threat, aided by their captain Mark Ronaldson who unlike Aslett had a lot of the ball and was the catalyst for the way the team played.

A special mention must go to the Irish wing back Damien Kelly who whenever he had to defend was tenacious in the tackle but use the ball with skill when on the attack.  Irish goalkeeper Darren Quigley had a good solid game.

For England there was little cheer, keeper Chris Asterly coped well with the swift Irish attack turning over a couple of fierce shots and generally was in command of his area although he had no chance with the goal, a well taken free kick to the far post powerfully headed in leaving the goalkeeper no chance.

Up front Matthew King worked tirelessly as the lone target man, but to often England seemed content to hump the ball up field with little or no chance of retaining possession.

Apart from the missed penalty, England had few chances, one a long range shot clipped the top of the Irish crossbar.  Aslett going close with a header but it wasn't firm enough to trouble Quiqley.  Late in the game, Aslett's best chance of a goal came after England's best period, the ball only half cleared gave him the slightest glimpse of goal but his shot when falling backwards ended up in the stands.