New-look Under-21s draw comfort in Holland
Tuesday, 11 August, 2009
Goalless draw in Groningen for England's first game of a new campaign
Jamie Bradbury in Groningen
England Under-21s kicked off their new season with a 0-0 draw in Holland on a night of few real openings but a lot for Stuart Pearce to take away as he looks ahead to next month’s first two UEFA Championship qualifiers.
Pearce named Micah Richards as captain and started with all eight of his squad members who were in Sweden in June, with Fabien Delph, James Vaughan and debutant Junior Stanislas making up the starting eleven.
And Pearce would also give debuts to five other players as he saw his full squad of 19 play some part in the game.
In a match where chances were at a premium, both sides were restricted to shots from range. While England had Delph in midfield with Danny Rose and Stanislas on the wings looking most likely to create something, Holland had their own danger-men.
Middlesbrough’s Marvin Emnes was lively on the right while over the other side Diego Biseswar produced a couple of efforts at goal, but nothing that would trouble Scott Loach.
Arsenal striker came the closest for Holland with five minutes to go until half-time. Spotting a chance to try his luck from outside the area, his snapshot looked good, but was a touch too high and fly into the stand.
The defences at both ends were looking sturdy. The Three Lions had Jack Rodwell protecting their back four, as Leroy Fer was doing a similar job for the home side.
And it was a defender who had the best chance of the first period on the stroke of half-time. Richards picked the ball up deep in his own half and marauded forward with pace into Dutch territory. A quick one-two with Stanislas saw the Manchester City man on the edge of the box with a clear sight at goal.
His shot was low and hard but Newcastle United ‘keeper Tim Krul was equal to it, smothering it at the second attempt.
Holland made three changes at the break while Pearce opted for the one, replacing James Vaughan with Daniel Sturridge to give the Chelsea striker his Under-21 debut.
Emnes continued to have a say on proceedings and he linked up well with Barazite to see a chance open for him six yards out, but Michael Mancienne blocked well. His directed header just a few minutes later had Frank Fielding, on for Scott Loach at half-time, diving across his goal, but the ball went wide of the post.
England then came close from a Stanislas free-kick after Lee Cattermole was fouled, but the West Ham winger’s curling shot was dealt with comfortably by Krul.
Pearce continued with the changes and brought on the rest of his subs, with first Under-21s outings for Chris Smalling, Jack Wilshere, Andy Carroll and Freddie Sears.
But it was Fielding who was called into action again, pulling off two good saves in the closing 20 minutes, which had the otherwise subdued Dutch crowd in the Euroborg Stadium excited.
And Dutch substitute Vurnon Anita, who looked just like legendary midfielder Edgar Davids, almost snatched it in the closing minutes with a vicious dipping drive from 25 yards. The ball had Fielding beaten, but it rattled the bar and bounced away to safety.
1 Tim Krul, 2 Daryl Janmaat, 3 Rens van Eijden (12 Jeffrey Bruma, 46), 4 Erik Pieters (c) (13 Daley Blind, 46), 5 Nicky Kuiper, 6 Mitchell Donald (15 Vurnon Anita, 64), 7 Marvin Emnes (17 Joshua John, 64), 8 Leroy Fer 14 (Jan-Arie van der Heijden, 46), 9 Nacer Barazite, 10 Siem de Jong, 11 Diego Biseswar
Subs 16 Leonard Nienhuis, 18 John Goossens, 19 Kelvin Leerdam
Coach Cor Pot
1 Scott Loach (13 Frank Fielding, 46), 2 Micah Richards (c) (12 Kyle Naughton,58), 3 Kieran Gibbs (14 Ryan Bertrand, 58), 4 Jack Rodwell (15 Chris Smalling, 58), 5 Michael Mancienne, 6 James Tomkins, 7 Junior Stanislas (18 Freddie Sears, 83) , 8 Lee Cattermole (17 Andy Carroll, 71), 9 James Vaughan (19 Daniel Sturridge, 46), 10 Fabien Delph (16 Jack Wilshere, 58), 11 Danny Rose
Coach Stuart Pearce
Holland Orange shirts, white shirts, orange socks
England White shirts, blue shorts, white socks
Referee Babak Rafati (Ger)
Assistants Holger Henschel and Christian Bornhorst
Fourth Official Michel Winter (Ned)