Orient’s Marvin Ekpiteta was in familiar territory as he played the full 90 minutes in the heart of England C’s defence in E10. The Three Lions were made to work for their victory as an Alfie Pavey penalty in the second half was enough to secure the victory for England.
The Havant and Waterlooville striker’s penalty was the only goal of the game, after Laurence Maguire, brother of World Cup star Harry, was dragged down in the penalty area by Vladamir Avilov.
It may have all been different, Estonia had the ball in the net after 30 minutes, but the linesman waved his flag for offside. Full-back Hindrek Ojamaa whipped a low ball into the box, towards the near post, where Kevin Kauber was waiting to tap the ball into the net past Ben Killip
The Blue-shirts were quick to prove they were not shy of a tackle. Vladimir Avilov committed a foul in a dangerous area, however Robbie Tinkler drilled a low free-kick wide of the mark after just five minutes.
England began to grasp control of the game and knock the ball around comfortably. James Hardy flashed a controlled strike narrowly wide after some stunning build up play from the three lions. Tom Walker brought the ball from midfield before setting up Hardy to strike.
Aflie Pavey could have bagged a first half hat-trick. He first came close to breaking the deadlock after 22 minutes. The forward rolled his marker on the edge of the box, but sent his 18-yard strike wide of the target with the goal at his mercy. His second opportunity fell immediately after Estonia’s offside goal but the striker could only direct a header into the Goalkeeper’s gloves from 12-yards.
The Hawks striker’s third and final opportunity came after 42 minutes. An awful mistake saw Estonia lose possession deep in their own half. Fortunately for the visitors, Pavey failed to keep his composure, and lashed at the ball from just outside the area. England continued to dominate the half but failed to find the opening as the referee blew his whistle for half-time with the game goalless.
James Hardy curled an effort wide of the Estonian goal as England picked up the tempo in search for a goal in the second half.
Substitutions were made from both sides just before the hour mark, as their respective managers looked to the bench to inspire a win.
England’s Penalty-kick was awarded shortly after the hour mark. Maguire was pulled by Avilov as the centre-back looked certain to score. Pavey stepped up and made no mistake in smashing the home into the bottom right corner of the net after 65 minutes.
The scorer was subbed ten minutes later to thunderous applause, on came debutant Kurt Willoughby.
Hardy tried his luck from distance as the time ticked on, But Keeper Aland made an easy save down to his left. Substitute Joe Mellish came close to doubling the lead, the left back drilled a shot come cross narrowly wide of the target after finding himself in the opposition penalty area.
The game began to lose urgency in the final minutes. Both managers continued to make changes as the tempo of the tie slowed right down. England held off a late rush from Estonia, and secured a thoroughly professional, and deserved win at The Breyer Group Stadium.
ENGLAND: Ben Killip (Ryan Huddart 51), Robbie Tinkler, Marvin Ekpiteta, Laurence Maguire (Luke Pennell 87), Jerome Binnom-Williams (Joe Millish 51), Ryan Croasdale, Alfie Pavey (Kurt Willoughby 75), Thomas Walker (Joshua Taylor 72), Wesley Fonguck, James Hardy, Ed Williams
MANAGER: Paul Fairclough
ESTONIA: Richard Aland, Vladimir Avilov, Joseph Saliste (Alger Dzumadic 88), Hindrek Ojamaa, Gerdo Juhkam, Kevin Kauber (Roman Sobtsenko 58), Robert Kirss(C), Kaspar Paur (Andre Paju 76), Maksim Gussey (Sander Kapper 58), , Tauno Tekko (Rasmus Peetson 76), Tristan Koskor
SUBS: Magnus Karofeld, Janar Ounap
MANAGER: Urmas Kirs
BOOKED: Avilov Kapper