Robbie Bettson’s England twice allowed a two-goal lead to slip before decisively going behind in the closing moments of a 5-4 defeat to Poland at St George’s Park.
Former York keeper Jonny Sim was recalled in place of the sidelined Mark Croft and proceeded to witness the visitors twice hitting the post during the opening half.
In between those two incidents, however, London Helvecia’s Stuart Cook drove a low free-kick straight through the Polish goalkeeper to open the scoring.
Kettering’s Curtis Mason also found the side-netting, while Bettson was only denied by the keeper following a decent move; although Raoni Medina – who scored England’s only goal in yesterday’s first meeting of the teams – vitally doubled their advantage with another sharp finish.
Sim then made a third really excellent first-half save, but was next unable to prevent the visitors from reducing the deficit as they broke to good effect ahead of the interval.
Big defensive cover Max Kilman was penalised soon after the restart, and the free-kick laid off for a low-struck finish inside the near post to rapidly bring the scoreline back level.
Three Lions’ Richard Ward immediately went close to recovering their advantage, while the visitors unluckily located the frame of the goal for a third occasion before the impressive Sim superbly parried over the crossbar.
But England still moved back in front against the run of play when Kilman lashed in following a fine solo run by Helvecia colleague Liam Palfreeman.
And it got even better for them as Loughborough’s Will Rooke suitably took advantage of an open goal following a timely block – with the fly keeper left hopelessly stranded up the court.
Nevertheless an angled conversion from the Poles suddenly brought the scoreline back to 4-3, before their again advanced keeper smashed another effort onto the crossbar.
A sweeping move from the visitors was then rounded off in incisive fashion to restore parity; at least until their long forward delivery was perfectly controlled and taken around Sim to complete an individual hat-trick with just over sixty seconds of the contest remaining.
Ward was promptly denied an equaliser at the other end as his colleagues were forced to accept back-to-back defeats to strong opposition in their latest weekend double-header.
England: Jonny Sim (London Helvecia),, Stuart Cook (London Helvecia), Maximilian Kilman (London Helvecia), Liam Palfreeman (London Helvecia), Raoni Medina (London Helvecia), Richard Ward (London Helvecia), James Webb (London Helvecia), Douglas Reed (Manchester), Robbie Bettson (York City), Calvin Dickson (London Helvecia), Russell Goldstein (London Helvecia), Jason Kilbride (Loughborough), Curtis Mason (Kettering), Will Rooke (Loughborough), Guillermo Wallace (Prato Calcio A5), Dean Withers (Birmingham Futsal), Joe Payne (Loughborough)
Photos by kind permission of Ian Parker