England Under-19 debutant Sam Gallagher won a penalty that contributed to the Young Lions’ comfortable 3-0 victory over Turkey at the Swansway Stadium.
The striker, who was joined by captain Calum Chambers and Matt Targett in home side’s starting line-up at Chester FC’s ground, produced an encouraging display that nearly saw him net an early goal from Devante Cole’s cross.
Cole’s volleyed opener preceded Gallagher’s charge into the box which saw him win a penalty for Lewis Baker to slam in.
Targett caused havoc for the visitors down the left flank and his troubling cross ricocheted into the path of Callum Robinson to complete the win with a low shot that squirmed over the line.
Harrison Reed’s U19 debut arrived when he replaced Chambers at the interval, an introduction that saw the midfielder put a calm, authoritative 45 minutes in at the centre of England’s midfield.
Less than a quarter of an hour into the encounter, Gallagher came agonisingly close to making the perfect entry onto England’s international stage but will have been ruing his mistimed swing.
John Swift slid the ball into Cole’s path down the right flank but his pull-back to his fellow debutant was missed completely by Gallagher as he attempted to side-foot home from the centre of the box.
The service provided by Swift continued to be a major threat in the early stages, which was highlighted in the 22nd minute when COLE capitalised on some clever vision from the former.
Swift calmly lifted the ball over the Turkish backline for the winger to control and power a volley beyond the reach of Ibrahim Demir and into the far corner.
Chambers’ physical presence ensured he’d be a nuisance from set-pieces, which was proven shortly after the half-hour mark when he rose well to nod a corner towards the pocket inside the far post but saw it caught by Turkey’s ‘keeper.
Gallagher, a lively presence in a lone striker role, nearly snatched an assist as the break approached after fine footwork from the influential Swift.
The Chelsea midfielder skipped past several challenges before playing a quick passing exchange with Gallagher, the striker’s return pass accurately sliding back into Swift’s path for a shot that fizzed marginally wide.
HALF-TIME: ENGLAND U19s 1-0 TURKEY U19s
Chambers’ evening came to end when he was replaced by fellow Saints Harrison Reed at the break. Chelsea’s Baker assumed the captaincy as Reed slotted into centre of midfield alongside him.
Less than ten minutes after the restart, Gallagher swiftly broke past Dogan Erdogan for a charge towards the box but was cynically hauled down by the defender who received a booking for the incident.
The Saints forward was relentless in his pressing against the Turkish defence, such pressure from Gallagher forced a penalty for England as he was brought down in the box.
BAKER elected himself for the spot-kick duty, sending Demir the wrong way as he powerfully drove the ball into the bottom-right corner to open a two-goal lead.
It was another Southampton player, Targett, who had a hand in the Three Lions’ third goal swiftly after when his marauding burst down the left wing created space for a dangerous cross that ricocheted into the path of substitute CALLUM ROBINSON whose low shot couldn’t be completely prevented by the hand of Demir as it crept over the line.
Four minutes later, the pair departed to great applause for their contribution to England’s resounding victory, leaving Harrison Reed as the only Saints representative on the field for the remaining 23 minutes.
The midfielder continued to do Southampton proud as he proved to be a composed presence in midfield that restricted Turkey and helped the U19s on their way to a deserved clean sheet.
FULL-TIME: ENGLAND U19s 3-0 TURKEY U19s
England Under-19s: Mitchell Beeney (Christian Walton 76), Calum Chambers (c) (Harrison Reed 46), Matt Targett (Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill 67), Isaac Hayden, Ola Aina, Shay Facey, John Swift (Dominic Ball 58), Lewis Baker, Sam Gallagher (Alex Mowatt 67), Devante Cole (Callum Robinson 58), Josh Murphy (Paul Digby 67).
Goals: Cole (22), Baker (61), Robinson (63)
Bookings: Baker (72), Robinson (72)
Turkey U19s: Ibrahim Demir, Emre Tasdemir, Fethi Ozer, Ertugrul Ersoy, Ozan Tufan, Taylan Antalyali (Atabey Cicek 77), Dogan Erdogan (Muhammed Ali Dogan 60), Orkan Cinar, Recep Niyaz (c), Sevki Cinar (Hasan Ayaroglu 46), Mustafa Batuhan Altinbas. Unused substitutes: Gokhan Akkan, Bathuhan Isciler, Oguzhan Kayar, Furkan Emre Unver.
Bookings: Erdogan (54), Niyaz (72)
Referee: Tony Harrington