Match report: England 1 USA 0

England Under-21s v USA Under-23s
England Under-21s v USA Under-23s
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Preston North End goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made his England Under-21s debut in the Young Lions’ victory over the USA Under-23s at Deepdale.

The 21-year-old, on a season-long loan from Sunderland, played an hour of the friendly clash which was a warm-up for England’s first European Championship qualifier against Norway next week.

Pickford had a fairly quiet evening, only called into serious action once to make a good save from Mario Rodriguez.

The contest’s only goal came in the 72nd minute from James Wilson, the substitute sliding the ball home from close range after good work from fellow sub Duncan Watmore.

It was a deserved victory for England who had the game’s better chances against an American side who will compete at the Rio Olympics next year.

The win provided a nice present for Under-21s head coach Gareth Southgate on his 45th birthday.

The national anthems were well observed by a decent-sized 10,187 crowd inside Deepdale which was hosting international football for the first time since May 2012 when the England Under-19s played here.

England started the livelier, putting early pressure on the visitors, a sliced clearance from USA skipper Shane O’Neill landing on top of the net early on.

Tottenham defender Eric Dier was cl-se to giving the Young Lions a 12th minute lead, his header from a James Ward-Prowse free-kick going just over.

Clever play from Nathan Redmond down the inside-left channel saw him lift the ball over the American defence to play in Dele Alli.

The former MK Dons midfielder, now at Spurs, turned to meet it but hooked his shot over the bar.

Redmond blazed a shot high and wide as England kept up their pressure in the opening stages.

Pickford was called into action for the first time in the 20th minute, getting down low to his left to glove a shot from Rodriguez past the post.

Back at the other end, striker Cauley Woodrow had two good chances inside four minutes to put England in front.

Redmond’s ball across the box found him in space but he struck a low right-foot shot against the legs of keeper Cody Cropper.

Soon after he was picked-out by Jordan Ibe’s low cross, his shot taking the slightest of deflections which diverted the ball inches wide of the target.

A passage of sloppy play from the home side saw a couple of chances fall America’s way.

Emerson Hyndman hit a first-time right-foot shot over the angle of post and bar after England had not dealt with a ball into the box.

Then Jerome Kiesewetter got in down the left-hand side of the box but Pickford forced him wide and he rolled a shot wide.

In the run-up to half-time, Ibe tricked his way inside from the right-wing into the box but the Liverpool teenager fired over the near post.

Then in the second minute of first-half stoppage-time, Ward-Prowse’s curling free-kick forced Cropper into a save at the foot of the near post.

Early in the second half, a fine turn of pace from Ibe took him down the right-wing, his centre bouncing across the six-yard box without anyone able to get a touch.

Ward-Prowse’s speculative shot from 25 yards was on target but substitute keeper Zack Steffen gathered at the second attempt.

England made nine substitutions on the hour mark, Pickford one of the players to come off.

The only two players to stay on were centre-half Calum Chambers and midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

After an untidy spell where the teams were finding their feet after the spate of substitutions, England broke the deadlock.

Duncan Watmore was the creator on the left hand side of the box after latching on to a quickly-taken free-kick.

The Sunderland player poked the ball past keeper Steffen which allowed Wilson to slide the ball into the net from six yards.

It was a lead which Wilson almost doubled within 90 seconds, his beautiful chip arching over the keeper but bouncing off the far post and back into play.

Seven minutes from time, Wilson’s pass sent Watmore clear of the USA defence and through on goal.

But he lacked composure in the box and with just the keeper to beat, blazed his shot high into the Alan Kelly Town End.

Just after that, Solly March’s weaving run carried him into the box, his shot saved low down at the near post by Steffen.

England: Pickford (Gunn 60), Gomez (Iorfa 60), Chambers, Dier (Stephens 60), Targett (Chalobah 60), Ibe (Hause 60), Loftus-Cheek, Ward-Prowse (Forster-Caskey 60), Alli (Watmore 60), Redmond (March 60), Woodrow (Wilson 60).

USA: Cropper, Okwuonu, Miazga, O’Neill, Miller, Kiesewetter, Hyndman, Trapp, Pelosi, Hernandez, Rodriguez. Subs: Carter-Vickers, Packwood, Serna, Ariyibi, Gil, Joya, Sorto, Polster, Rubin, Tall, Horvath.

Referee: Alan Mario San (Malta)

Attendance: 10,187