No washout in Warsaw
Wednesday, 17 October, 2012
An alternative look back at the draw with Poland
By Chris Hatherall in Warsaw
The rain couldn't defeat England and neither in the end could Poland.
But Roy Hodgson's side will be relieved that history didn't repeat itself in Warsaw after a tough test in their World Cup qualifying campaign.
The last time England had to play a postponed match 24 hours after the original was called off they found it even more difficult.
It came in Czechoslovakia in 1975 when the referee halted the tie in Bratislava after only 17 minutes because of dense fog.
The next day England took an early lead through Mick Channon after 26 minutes - just as they did here in Warsaw through Wayne Rooney.
But the Czechs fought back with goals from Zdanek Nehoda and Dusan Gallis to win 2-1 against an England side that featured Ray Clemence between the sticks and Gerry Francis as captain.
At times it looked as though history would repeat itself, as Poland thundered back into the tie in the second half and put Joe Hart's goal under some intense pressure.
It has to be said their equaliser when it came, through the head of Kamil Glik, was deserved.
But England defended defiantly to prevent the Poles scoring a winner and created chances of their own in a lively finish. So it didn't prove to be 1975 all over again.
Perhaps on reflection, England will see this as a precious point gained - after all it leaves the Three Lions one point clear at the top of Group H in their bid to reach Brazil in 2014.
And it's also easy to forget just what tough opponents Poland can be.
Everyone remembers hat-tricks from Gary Lineker and Paul Scholes but there was also a 2-0 defeat here in 1973, for instance, in which Alan Ball was sent off and the great Bobby Moore scored an own goal
On this occasion England left with a point in the bag and lessons learned. And there were some positives to hang onto, too.
Glen Johnson for instance, winning his 43d cap, had an impressive game at right-back and made some crucial interceptions.
There were times early in his career when critics claimed Johnson, who has always been outstanding going forward, was less assured in defence.
But, at the age of 28, his performance in Warsaw proved he is a far more mature and confident player at both ends of the field these days.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also caught the eye when coming on to produce a lively performance as substitute.
And Rooney's goal - a first half glancing header from a Steven Gerrard corner - was his 32nd in an England shirt, leaving him just eight goals short of fifth-placed Michael Owen in the all-time Three Lions' goalscorers list.
England wanted more than a point but despite yesterday's rain - and memories of postponement woes of the past - their World Cup dreams on this occasion are very much afloat.