Grimes and Pym help Young Lions to draw in BournemouthMatt Grimes and Christy Pym both played 90 minutes in England Under-20s’ 2-2 draw against their Canadian counterparts at AFC Bournemouth’s Goldsands Arena.
Chuba Akpom got England off to a good start as he turned in a low cross from the left, but Michael Petrasso had Canada back on terms after the break.
Baily Cargill’s late header from Grimes’ corner looked like it was going to be the winner for the Young Lions, but a stoppage-time equaliser from close range by sub Jordan Hamilton gave Canada a friendly draw.
Matt and Christy were both named in the starting XI for Aidy Boothroyd’s side, alongside players from the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.
The pattern of play settled very quickly into England possession and pressure, with Canada chasing the ball. But for all the work, the Young Lions couldn’t quite work their way through a stubborn rear-guard and the visitors almost earned a lead, only for Manny Aparicio to pull his shot wide of Pym’s post after being released.
The deadlock lasted just quarter of an hour though, as captain Lewis Baker was played in down the left by John Swift, and delivered a low cross for Chuba Akpom to turn in at the near post.
Canada again had a rare foray but Pym was again untested when Kianz Froese, cutting in off the left, saw a right-footed strike deflected past the base of the post.
And soon after Grimes, playing in an advanced role wide on the right, cut in off his flank and was released through the centre – he opted to lay in Akpom, but the striker’s return ball was intercepted and Canada played out.
Man City’s Shay Facey had to end his evening early, pulling up in defence and needing replacing midway through the first period by Spurs right-back Dominic Ball. Shortly after Grimes worked a short corner from the left, and his right-footed strike hit the crowd of Canadian defenders.
It was sub Ball that presented Akpom with a golden chance to double his lead, crossing a near-perfect ball from the right flank – but the striker couldn’t duck low enough to divert his header on target, having been totally unmarked.
Pym had his first save of note to make shortly before half-time, when a low ball in from the left by Canucks captain Sam Adekugbe found its way to Froese, whose venomous shot was kept out and then quickly smothered by the City goalie.
England were dealt with another injury blow just on half-time, with Kourtney Hause needed to replace Liverpool centre-half Lloyd Jones, who was struggling with a knock.
Half-time: England U20 1 Canada U20 0
Southampton midfielder Harrison Reed replaced club-mate Matt Targett at the break, and almost had an instant impact as his curling effort was denied by a fingertip save from goalkeeper Marco Carducci.
But Canada were soon level – a ball from centre-field found Petrasso totally untracked on the left, and the forward burst goalwards and coolly slotted past the advancing Pym.
City’s stopper was called into action just moments after to deny a lead to Canada – it was Sadi Jalali that powered a shot which needed a smart stop.
Pym and Grimes both played on past the hour-mark changes, which saw four of the Young Lions replaced. And Grimes took a more familiar role in the centre of midfield after the subs.
Canada made some subs of their own and Jordan Hamilton, on for Manny Aparicio, looped a half-volley into Pym’s side-netting from a tight angle with his first touch of the ball.
Grimes was called upon to deliver a free-kick from the right byline as the game entered the final ten minutes, and his deep, hanging cross was headed into the side netting by Barnsley man Paul Digby at the back post.
As the game entered the final five minutes, Grimes got his assist as a left-flank corner was on a plate for Cargill to power in a header in front of his home fans.
However Canada had the last say as a deep cross squirmed its way to the unmarked Hamilton, who slotted in across the face of goal calmly in stoppage time.
Full-time: England U20 2 Canada U20 2
England U20: Pym; Facey (Ball 23), Targett (Reed 46), Baker (Murphy 60), Jones (Hause 45), Cargill, Grimes, Digby, Akpom (Wilson 60), Harrop (Thomas 60), Swift (Ibe 60).
Unused subs: Walton, Wildsmith.
Goals: Akpom (15), Cargill (86).
Canada U20: Carducci, Adekugbe (Serban 90), Gasparotto, Gagnon-Lapare, Jalali (Hamilton 75), Carreiro (Boakai 90), Petrasso, Haynes, Comsia, Aparicio (Bustos 75), Froese (Beland-Goyette 83).
Unused subs: Wirth, Serban, Aleksic.
Goals: Petrasso (48), Hamilton (90).
Referee: Simon Hooper