Connor Wickham

England success for pair

by Stuart Vose

Wickham and Pickford in international action.

Sunderland striker Connor Wickham helped England under-21s equal a 21-year record last night.

Wickham found the net in a 2-0 win over Northern Ireland at Blackpool's Bloomfield Road to make it six victories in a row for Stuart Pearce's side.

The Young Lions also haven't conceded a single goal in the calendar year 2012, which saw them secure a place at next summer's Euro 2013 tournament in Israel.

Wickham had already fired against the crossbar before getting on the scoresheet when he headed home Jordan Henderson's free-kick just before the break.

Benik Afobe's 75th-minute penalty made sure of victory.

“It’s important for me to score," Wickham told afterwards. "I had quite a few chances today and luckily one went in.

"It’s just down to me to prove to the manager that I can stake a claim in the team and keep my performances going and scoring goals.”

Meanwhile young goalkeeper Jordan Pickford played the first half of England under-19s' 1-0 win over Finland at the New Bucks Head Stadium, home of Telford United.

It looked as if Noel Blake's side would have to settle for a draw, but a late penalty from John Lundstram eventually secured victory.