Wednesday, 7 September 2011

England 1 v Wales 0 - Euro 2012 Qualifier

Tuesday 6th September 2011, at Wembley Stadium
Euro 2012 Qualifier
England (1) 1 (Young 35)
Wales (0) 0
Admission £40, Programme £6 , Attendance 77,128
No Free Lions fanzine produced tonight
England: Hart, Smalling, Terry, Cahill, Cole, Milner, Lampard (Parker 73), Barry, Downing (Johnson 79), Young, Rooney (Carroll 89). Subs Not Used: Stockdale, Jagielka, Lescott, Defoe.Wales: Hennessey, Gunter, Williams, Blake, Taylor, Bale, Crofts, Collison (King 85), Ramsey, Ledley, Morison (Earnshaw 68). Subs Not Used: Myhill, Danny Collins, James Collins, Allen, Robson-Kanu.
£40, plus the cost of travel and all those hours sat in hold ups on the M1 for this rubbish?
Don't anybody ask me to explain why I do it, at this moment in time I can't even justify it to myself.
England were crap, but thankfully, Wales were completely hopeless in front of goal, so the home side scraped a win that their efforts barely deserved.
However the death of Michael Dye, a 44 year old Cardiff City and Wales supporter, puts everything else that happened on the night into perspective.
In spite of what some people might think, football really isn't a matter of life and death ... Stewart Downing created the only goal of the night for Ashley Young on 35 minutes, apart from that the game was much of a muchness, until Wales picked up the tempo, sensing that a draw, or even more might be up for grabs against an England side who just weren't up for it and didn't look interested once they had scored.
Wales Rob Earnshaw is my man of the match, he did more for England's Euro 2012 qualifying hopes tonight ... in a few hapless moments on 77 minutes, when he lumped the ball over the crossbar from six yards out with an open goal at his mercy ... than most of the combined England teamed had managed in 90 minutes (+ 2 minutes stoppages).
The England fans had come to party, following the 3-0 win over a very poor Bulgaria side on Friday. Three points tonight meant that Fabio Capello's side now have one foot in the Euro 2012 tournament and need just a point in Montenegro to guarantee qualification ... what could possibly go wrong!!??
But long before the final whistle, the beach balls and inflatable sheep that had been bouncing around the seats had been deflated, pretty much like the upbeat atmosphere and a lot of the crowd had already left and gone home.
On 80 minutes the stadium was haemorrhaging England fans at an alarming rate.
There was no queueing and waiting to get out after the game, because at least a third of the 77,128 crowd were halfway up Wembley Way by then.
Woo hoo! Look England players, the goal is over here!

The Welsh by contrast, obviously prior to the news breaking that one of their fans had died in the build up to the game, were very noisy by comparison ... and their band have a better repertoire of songs than England's 'musicians' do.
Some people enjoy the England band, personally I'm not a fan.
I think they should have a few rehearsal sessions to learn some new material ... preferably at some disused warehouse in Heckmonwike, on dates that coincide with the next few times England are playing.
At least those tiresome Mexican waves never picked up any momentum tonight. Stop it! It's association football FFS, not some faux American sport.
"Yn dod ar eich cochs!"

Tonight England got the result they needed, but trudging up the hill to the Green Man pub after the game, it didn't feel like we'd just seen a win ... it was a very poor showing from England.
If they qualify for Euro 2012, I dread to think what some of the better European national sides will do to England if they turn up and play like that.
Luckily for England, Wales didn't have enough quality and strength in depth to put the finishing touches to their second half effort and desire.
The M1 on the way home was the stuff of nightmares ... there are still several months of planned motorway misery in store too.
At midnight I could see a sign telling us Northampton was 21 miles away, by half past we still hadn't moved, three lanes of traffic packed solid for miles ... don't people have homes to go to?
Thanks to Stuart of the North Notts England Supporters for laying the buses on, I think I would've imploded if I'd had to drive through that chaos after watching such a grim game.
All that way (and back) for £16 is a bargain.
The coach trips are well organised and highly recommended ... in spite of how shit the football is sometimes.
Watch this blog for details of future trips.
In the aftermath of the game Fabio Capello blamed the pressure on the players to produce a result against Wales for the performance and reckons they have no confidence playing at Wembley.
Wales have won one game in six against Montenegro, it did England a massive favour.
Wales have scored just three goals in six games, they are bottom of the table because they're not very good, apparently England are top of Group G because they are there on merit.
Wales played with a lot of pride and passion ... England didn't and therein lies the crux of the matter ... and that's an understatement.
Fabio Capello and, err ... Richard Gere?

The group leasders have to somehow magic up a result against the wooden spoonists and they feel under pressure?
And as for Wembley and confidence. Large attendances, lots of supporters paying extortionate prices and raiding the roof to spur the team on ... how the bloody hell is that confidence sapping.
Try this for size Fabio ... no more excuses when the England side under perform, less talk, more torque!
England won, more by accident than design, they got lucky.
"Do you give in yet!?"
In a vainglorious attempt to instil some fight into the team
Gary Lewin wrestles with the players before kick of.
The scores on the doors:
If England lose in Montenegro, then Montenegro need a win against Switzerland in their final game on 11 October to qualify as group winners because they have a better head-to-head record over England. A draw will see England through, but back to back victories for Montenegro will push England into the play offs.
I know England aren't amongst the elite of world football, I know there are allegedly no easy games at international level any more ... but FFS, with all due respect to the Welsh, the difference in the calibre of players at these two sides disposal ought to have made this game a formality.
Well played Wales, you were bloody unlucky.