England U-21s 3 Republic of Ireland U-21s 1
The Republic of Ireland U-21 side were beaten 3-1 by an experienced England U-21 outfit in a training game at St George's Park this afternoon.
Gareth Southgate's English side are preparing for this year's UEFA U-21 Championships finals and are on average two years older than Noel King's side so this fixture was always going to be a test for Ireland.
Initially the experience told as England dominated the first half and went in 3-0 up at half-time but the second-half display by the Irish was very encouraging and a Sean Long goal midway through the second half gave the Irish some reward for their efforts.
England went 1-0 up in the fifth minute when Tom Carroll found the net with a blistering strike from 25 yards out.
Four minutes later dangerous winger Alex Pritchard showed his quality with a dribble past two Irish defenders before producing a low strike that Irish keeper Danny Rogers saved well.
In the 14th minute Pritchard slipped through Saido Berahino and once again Rogers was alert to make an excellent save at the striker's feet.
From the resulting corner Rogers made a point blank save to keep out a Berahino header after Michael Keane had headed back across goal.
The English went 2-0 up in the 24th minute when Berahino headed home from a right-wing cross by John Stones.
Berahino was a threat again in the 32th minute when he set-up Carroll asnd once again the midfielder's low shot was well saved by the impressive Rogers.
England pulled further ahead in the 39th minute when Nathanial Chalobah powered header to the bottom corner from a left wing cross by Luke Garbutt.
Ireland's first real chance came in the 41st minute when a brilliant right-wing cross by Kenny McEvoy found the head of Callum O'Dowda but unfortunately his attempt went narrowly over.
Rogers made another brave save at the feet of substitute Danny Ings in the 53rd minute then four minutes later Pritchard showed great skill to carve out a chance to shoot but Rogers turned it around his left upright.
Ireland's goal came in the 63rd minute when Sean Maguire did very well bursting down the left flank and crossed for Sean Long to volley at the home back post.
The Irish showed plenty of good controlled possession in the remainder of the game but neither side produced another serious attempt on goal.
"It was a very good exercise against an excellent England team with several household names and our lads had to work very hard to stay in the game," said Noel King.
"The second half was particularly pleasing as we started to grow in confidence. England scored some fantastic goals which showed the quality that they have but we grew into it and scored an excellent goal ourselves.
"All of this week has been about building for the qualifiers. We play Qatar in a friendly in September then Andorra in the qualifiers as we look to build on our winning start in March."
ENGLAND: Butland, Stones, Garbutt, Keane, Moore, Forster-Caskey, Chalobah, Carroll, Pritchard, Berahino, Lindgard. Subs: Targett for Garbutt 46 mins; Ings for Berahino 46; Jenkinson, Gibson, Redmond, Hughes and Ward-Prowse for Stones, Keane, Forster-Caskey, Carroll and Pritchard all 57 mins.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Rogers, Long, Rea, Lenihan, Griffin, Browne, Connors, S Kavanagh, McEvoy, Wilkinson, O'Dowda. Subs: Maguire, Garmston and Sweeney for Wilkinson, Griffin and McEvoy all 46 mins.