England Under-21s struggled to a 2-1 win over their Slovakian counterparts on Monday, but Aidy Boothroyd was happy with how his players performed in Poland.
Having drawn 0-0 with Sweden in their opening match of Euro 2017, things looked to be going from bad to worse when Martin Chrien headed Slovakia into a one-goal lead at half-time.
England were deservedly behind after a sloppy 45 minute display, though they came out after the break and managed to first equalise – through Alfie Mawson – before Nathan Redmond scored a superb winner.
On the balance of play, Boothroyd’s men were good value for the vital win, but the strong second half showing should not cover up just how poor the Young Lions were before the break.
But despite that performance, Boothroyd has admitted he was not worried when England finished the first half one goal down.
Speaking to talkSPORT following the match, the former Watford manager said: “I wasn’t [worried], because I work with these lads and know the quality they’ve got.
“I think it was about composure over the occasion. 90 per cent of the stadium was Slovakian, that made it a great atmosphere, but it was certainly partisan and we had to deal with that and be even more composed.
“I thought throughout the game we controlled it, we stopped them and gave them problems, dealt with their big player – Lobotka – stopped him playing. But when we got on the ball I thought we moved it well, and it was just the final pass, the final cross that we didn’t have.
“In the second half we created a lot more chances and freed up the front two players who I thought were excellent, and we gave ourselves a chance of winning it – and thankfully we did.”
Tammy Abraham was one of the players to show a marked improvement in the second half, having had almost no support in the opening period.
He held up play expertly, and it was the Chelsea forward’s shielding of the ball that led to Redmond’s winning goal.
Boothroyd had words of praise for the 19-year-old: “It’s the sort of education you’d rather he didn’t get all the time, but he did very well tonight. He’s a good player; he scores goals, he holds the ball up.
“He’s a real talent, and considering he’s a year younger – he could have played in the Under-20 World Cup of course – it just shows you how far he’s come in a short space of time.”