England U21s had to settle for a draw in the first game of their home double-header, as Poland kept the Young Lions at bay in Bristol.
With the U21 EURO Finals in sight this summer, Young Lions boss Aidy Boothroyd had wanted his players to face a real test against their potential rivals.
- U21 International
- Thursday 21 March 2019
- Ashton Gate, Bristol City FC
- Live on BT Sport
And that’s what happened at Ashton Gate, with Poland proving a tough nut to crack, although England will feel they could have won the game after spending the majority of the second half on the front foot.
In front of an impressive and equally noisy crowd, it was England who raised an early cheer when they took the lead after less than quarter of an hour.
A pass into the channel from Jay Dasilva was swiped at and missed by Polish defender Mateusz Wieteska, allowing Reiss Nelson to race onto the ball.
The Hoffeinheim loanee skipped around goalkeeper Kamil Grabara, and got to the by-line from where his low cross was turned home easily by Calvert-Lewin into an open goal.
Shortly after that, Grabara made a stunning fingertip save to turn Jonjoe Kenny’s fierce long-ranger over the bar before he kept out Calvert-Lewin’s toe-poke after the Everton striker was sent clear by James Maddison.
But England couldn’t build on their good start and the Poles, backed by their own band of supporters, equalised shortly after the half-hour mark.
It was a spectacular strike too as Sebastian Szymanski’s whipped a free-kick beyond Angus Gunn, giving the Southampton keeper no chance with no defensive wall in place.
Kenny was denied by Grabara again in the second half, as England searched for another goal, with the Polish keeper pushing the right-back’s deflected effort onto the post.
England ended the game on the front foot, but couldn’t find a way through for the win.
Maddison, who had scored from a similar position in his previous game for Leicester, tried his luck from a free-kick only to lift it over the bar in the 87th minute.
And his Foxes team-mate Hamza Choudhury was within a foot of winning it with a curling effort from 25 yards.
England: 13 Angus Gunn (Southampton), 2 Jonjoe Kenny (Everton), 3 Jay Dasilva (Bristol City, loan from Chelsea), 4 Kieran Dowell (Sheffield United, loan from Everton), 5 Fikayo Tomori (Derby County, loan from Chelsea), 6 Lloyd Kelly (Bristol City), 7 Ademola Lookman (Everton), 8 James Maddison (Leicester City), 9 Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), 10 Phil Foden (Manchester City), 11 Reiss Nelson (Hoffenheim, loan from Arsenal)
Substitutes: 21 Demarai Gray (Leicester City) for Nelson 72, 20 Dom Solanke (AFC Bournemouth) for Calvert-Lewin 72, 18 Harvey Barnes (Leicester City) for Lookman 72, 14 Tom Davies (Everton) for Foden 73, 24 Hamza Choudhury (Leicester City) for Dowell 80
Substitutes not used: 22 Freddie Woodman (Newcastle United), 15 Dael Fry (Middlesbrough), 16 Jake Clarke-Salter (Vitesse Arnhem, loan from Chelsea), 17 Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham Hotspur), 19 Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham), 25 Ezri Konsa (Brentford)
Head coach: Aidy Boothroyd