It would be a mistake to read too much into what are essentially practice matches or to come to any firm conclusions but satisfaction can still be taken from a useful work out and a good result in the hot conditions.
Playing on Lichfield’s new artificial surface, most of the game was conducted at a fairly sedate tempo and on the level with an opportunity to shine for those with good control and passing skills. Indeed it was a delight to see that the neat passing game at which Sporting excelled last season has continued or even enhanced by watching the skills of World Cup teams.
There was not a lot of action for the first few minutes as players acquainted themselves but finally Sporting had their first shot on target on the 11th minute when Nathan Hayward’s low drive was easily gathered. Two minutes later they should have taken the lead when Richard Gregory’s free kick hit the post only for the ball to then ping-pong around the box before being finally cleared off the line.
Charlie Dowd and Gregory both came close later in the half but it was Liam Armstrong who gave his team the lead when he picked up a delightful though pass from Dowd and slotted home from 15 yards out.
It was all change for the second half as manager Brendan Kelly made 11 substitutions and dividends were paid quickly as Harry Harris converted a corner from John Pykett with just a couple of minutes on the clock. Harris was again the scorer on the 63rd minute from the penalty spot before the home side got a deserved equaliser when Jon Brown was caught off his line and a looping shot went in off the bar.
Two more substitutions brought on Joe Drake and an impressive performance from former Syrian refugee Helal Albaarini. However number four came from Jamie Clarke, the captain of England’s deaf team on the 88th minute who tapped in from a few yards out. Then Clarke again was again the scorer with a minute to go with the best goal of the afternoon when he neatly side-footed home from an acute angle
Lichfield goal: 78 mins
Sporting players used:
First half: Reece Francis, Marcel Simpson, Danny Morris, Craig Jones, Danny Campbell, Liam Armstrong, Aaron Williams, Charlie Dowd, Nathan Hayward, Richard Gregory, Tom Rankin.
Second half: Jon Brown, Aaron Roberts, Guy Clark, Tom Taylor, Jack Wilson, John Pykett, Harry Harris, Josh Quaynor, Cory Herbert, Danny Jackman, Joe Drake, Jamie Clarke, Helal Albaarini.
Goals: Liam Armstrong (42 mins), Harry Harris (47, 63 mins penalty), Jamie Clarke (88, 89 mins)
Weather: Hot, sunny.
Reporter: Phil Baker