Stuart Pearce handed out no fewer than six debuts as a fresh-looking Under-21s drew 0-0 with Poland.
England 0-0 Poland
International Under-21 Friendly
7pm, Tuesday 25 March 2008
Molineux, Wolverhampton Wanderers FC
Stuart Pearce handed out no fewer than six Under-21 debuts and first starts for three others as a fresh-looking England side maintained their long unbeaten record with a 0-0 draw against Poland.
Despite neither side finding the net, Pearce had the opportunity to see all 17 of his squad feature in the match, which will give him food for thought as he looks to build a strong unit that he hopes will take England to next year's European Under-21 Championship.
In defence, Coventry's Daniel Fox started at left-back alongside Ryan Shawcross, while Michael Mancienne had his full debut at right-back. Jamie O'Hara lined up in central midfield behind the front two of Cameron Jerome and Luke Moore, joining forces for their first starts.
It may have been a full house at Molineux, but it wasn’t just England fans who were here to enjoy the night, as one whole section of the Billy Wright stand was packed with Poles who sang their anthem with pride, and applauded ‘God save the Queen’ with respect.
Middlesbrough's Adam Johnson has been relishing his opportunities in the side this season, and was not going to waste any time here. His run from deep, including a pair of teasing step-overs, helped carve a route to goal, but with one man to beat, he was blocked on the edge of the box.
Craig Gardner, a regular free-kick taker for Aston Villa, stepped up to fire in low and hard. Goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton was equal to it, but could not prevent the spillage, which fell kindly for Luke Moore. Tyton recovered to block his attempt, too.
The Roda JC keeper was called upon moments later, but again failed to hold on to the ball, when Cameron Jerome controlled well before cutting in from the left and shooting across goal. Gardner was just too late on the scene to tuck away as Piotr Polczak cleared.
Poland did have their attempts, twice working Joe Hart via the right-foot of dangerman Szymon Pawlowski. Hart first claimed an inswinging free-kick from the left and then, after cutting in from the left past Mancienne, Pawlowski aimed for Hart’s corner, but the City stopper was down well.
Jamie O’Hara brought his Spurs form to the international stage and looked very comfortable for England in the centre of midfield, regularly taking the sting out of Polish pressure, while looking to get Three Lions attacks going. He made a chance for himself just before the break, turning his marker 20 yards from goal, but his shot was always heading over the bar.
Tom Heaton became Pearce’s fourth new cap of the night when he replaced Joe Hart at the break, but it was his fellow substitute Grant Leadbitter who had the first opportunity of the pair to show what he could do.
But after steadying himself as Johnson’s left wing cross fell to him on the edge of the area, his shot flew off target.
However, Heaton came to the rescue when CZKA Moscow striker Dawid Janczyk looked to be clean through, and was quick out of his box to snuff out the problem. The Manchester United stopper also had to deal with Radoslaw Majewski’s 25-yard snap-shot, and did well to tip it over the bar.
Neither side could find the key to unlock one another, and in a bid to freshen up his attack, Pearce introduce the lively Fraizer Campbell, for his debut, and Matt Derbyshire, while also giving Scott Dann his first cap at centre-back.
But it was Man of the Match Johnson, the most fouled player on the pitch, who caused Poland issues on the left, and O’Hara pulling the strings who looked the most likely to create something.
O’Hara’s run and cross from the right was messed up by Tyton, but somehow the rebound evaded the head of Campbell and wouldn’t drop kindly for the on-loan Manchester United forward to force into the empty net.
Pawlowski almost snatched it at the end, again finding space behind Mancienne, and the QPR defender would have been pleased to see his effort roll tamely wide.
1 Joe Hart (13 Tom Heaton), 2 Michael Mancienne, 3 Daniel Fox, 4 Andrew Surman (15 Joe Mattock) , 5 Nedum Onuoha (c), 6 Ryan Shawcross (16 Scott Dann), 7 Craig Gardner (17 Grant Leadbitter), 8 Jamie O'Hara, 9 Cameron Jerome (12 Fraizer Campbell), 10 Luke Moore (14 Matt Derbyshire), 11 Adam Johnson
Coach Stuart Pearce
Booked Matt Derbyshire
1 Przemyslaw Tyton, 2 Adam Kokoszka, 3 Jakub Rzezniczak (c), 4 Przemyslaw Kocot, 5 Piotr Polczak, 6 Piotr Kuklis (14 Dawid Jarka, 76), 7 Szymon Pawlowski, 8 Kamil Glik, 9 Cezary Wilk (13 Adam Danch, 46), 10 Rodoslaw Majewski, 11 Dawid Janczyk (17 Robert Lewandowski, 76)
Subs 12 Wojciech Szczesny, 15 Witold Cichy, 16 Artur Marchiniak, 18 Michal Renusz
Coach Andrzej Zamilski
Booked Rzezniczak, Kuklis, Wilk
Referee Kevin Blom (Ned)
Assistants Berry Simons and Rob van Deven (both Ned)
Fourth official Andre Marriner (Eng)
Nationwide Man of the Match Adam Johnson (Middlesbrough)