Paul Fairclough's side win in Poland.
Poland 1-2 England C
Tuesday 17 November 2009 The Inter Groclin Stadium, Gradiszk Wielpolski
Paul Fairclough’s England C squad chalked up a superb 2-1 victory against a strong Poland U23 side on a wet and foggy night in Gradiszk Wielpolski on Tuesday.
The England side, with an average age of just 21 years and two months, turned in what was probably the best performance by an England team at this level. The Polish side, preparing for both their International Challenge Trophy and Olympic Games qualifying campaigns, was packed with players from the Polish Premier Division and included David Janczyk who recently moved to Belgian side Lokeren for 4m Euros
The team, showing seven changes from the original squad selected due to FA Cup replays and injuries, started brightly and took the game to the hosts but it was Poland who made the initial inroads and it took strong defending to keep the home side at bay.
With the fog becoming thicker, it was difficult to keep track of the action as the game flowed from end-to-end in front of an enthusiastic crowd which included a group of around 20 England supporters who are now becoming regulars at away games.
It was to their delight that England took the lead, with a superb goal from Chris Holroyd. The move began when a deflected Polish free-kick broke to Darius Charles inside his own 18 yard box. He curled a wonderful pass into the path of Holroyd. The Cambridge United striker broke into the Polish half and, moving inside, played a weighted ball to the feet of Nick Wright. He lost his marker, broke into the box and hit a shot which Polish keeper Stachowiak could only loop into the air. It was met by Richard Brodie whose header came back off the crossbar and into the path of Holroyd who simply stroked the ball into the net.
The game continued at a fast pace with the English side, superbly marshalled by skipper Rossi Jarvis, more than matched their opponents and it was against the run of play that Poland grabbed an equaliser in first half stoppage time. Whilst the England defenders claimed that Janczyk was clearly in an offside position when he picked up a through ball, he fired home past Dale Roberts off the inside of the post, but maybe the Assistant Referee could not see because of the fog!
The second half began along similar lines to the first, with the home side having early pressure but again squandering a couple of good opportunities. It was England who found the net again though, only for Brodie’s smart header to be ruled out for an alleged foul on the keeper.
Fairclough then made a couple of changes with Tom Shaw replacing his Tamworth team mate Wright and Kidderminster Harriers’ Matt Barnes-Homer replacing the unlucky Brodie and it was Barnes-Homer who scored what proved to be the winning goal in the 74th minute.
Again Holroyd was instrumental in the build up taking a superb ball from his Cambridge colleague Jai Reason, before cutting in from the right and laying the ball off to Barnes-Homer. He made no mistake from eight yards out much to the delight of his team-mates and the visiting support.
The home side were clearly rattled by this and seemed to lose their way as the clock ticked down and with his young side very much in control, Fairclough gave a first cap to FC Halifax Town’s young keeper Jonathan Hedge who saw the game out.
When the final whistle sounded, the players and team staff were able to celebrate what was a superb achievement played in difficult conditions against allegedly superior opponents. England C:
Dale Roberts (Rushden & Diamonds) (John Hedge (FC Halifax Town, 86), Shaun Densmore (Altrincham), Sean Newton (AFC Telford United), Tom Cadmore (Hayes & Yeading United), Darius Charles (Ebbsfleet United), Jake Howells (Luton Town), Max Porter (Rushden & Diamonds) (Jai Reason (Cambridge United), 73), Rossi Jarvis (Luton Town), Nick Wright (Tamworth) (Tom Shaw (Tamworth), 60), Chris Holroyd (Cambridge United), Richard Brodie (York City) (Matthew Barnes-Homer (Kidderminster Harriers), 66).