Monday, 10 September 2012

Engalnd Under 21 1 v Norway Under 21 0 - Euro U21 2013 Qualifier (Group 8)

Monday 10th September, at the Proact Stadium
Euro U21 2013 Qualifier (Group 8)
England U21 (1) 1
Connor Wickham 43
Norway U21 (0) 0
Admission £10, programme £2.50, Attendance 9,947
England U21
1 Steele, 2 Kelly (14 Clyne - 45 mins), 3 Rose, 4 Shelvey,
5 Caulker, 6 R Bennett, 8 Henderson,
9 Wickham (19 Lees - 77 mins), 10 Waghorn (15 Zaha - 77 mins), 11 Ince, 16 Marshall
Unused Subs - 12 Smith, 13 Amos, 14 Clyne, 17 Kane, 18 Sordell
Norway U21
1 Ostbo, 2 Hedenstad, 4 Strandberg, 6 Konradsen, 7 Singh,
8 Berget (19 Bakenga - 68' ), 9 Berisha (5 Skjelsvik - 87 mins ),
15 Nielsen, 17 Elabdellaoui, 18 Ulvestad (16 de Lanlay - 55 mins), 20 Rogne
Unused Subs - 11 Tollas, 12 Nyland, 13 Linnes, 14 Johansen
A 2-0 win for Stuart Pearce's England U21 side, in Azerbaijan last Thursday, with goals from Jonjo Shelvey and Steve Caulker, ensured their qualification for Friday's play off draw.
Tonight's victory over Group 8's second placed team Norway, also means England will be seeded in the draw by virtue of having finished top of the group.
The 10 group winners - including England - and the four best runners up will play two legged ties in October, for the seven places at next June's finals alongside hosts Israel.
Norway have also reached the play offs.
Just before half time, Connor Whickham ceased on a defensive slip and cut into the Norwegian box from the right flank, to put England ahead.
Arild Ostbo, in goal for Norway had saved an earlier effort from Martyn Waghorn.
Tom Ince had come close to opening the scoring too, but he put the ball wide of the target from inside the area.
To be perfectly honest, this wasn't a massively entertaining game to watch.
Most of the play was bogged down in midfield and clear cut chances were few and far between.
Half time - England U21 1 v Norway U21 0 ... so far, so, so.

After the restart, England tried to up the ante as they looked to kill off a game they only actually needed to draw, but they seemed to fade away and it was Norway who started to look more likely to give the game the boot up the backside it badly needed, when Yann-Erik de Lanlay fired just wide on the hour mark.
The obvious threat the visitors were starting to pose, could've acted as a catalyst to Stuart Pearce's misfiring charges to buck their ideas up, but it didn't.
Havard Nielsen rattled the England crossbar, when it looked as though an equaliser was on the cards and as Norway continued to grow in confidence, Jason Steele had to deal with a Harmeet Singh shot from 25-yards out shot grabbed by England keeper.
Long before the end of the game, a large percentage of the crowd had taken to amusing themselves.
A sustained Mexican Wave lasted 7 whole laps of the ground before it finally petered out.
Hmm, a wave is always a sure fire sign that people have turned out intent on enjoying themselves, regardless of the fare on offer.
I guess, to be fair, both England and Norway, both knew they had already reached the play offs and it did take the edge off the game before it had even kicked off.
Following this lacklustre 1-0 win, Stuart Pearce was quoted as saying:
"We're pleased with that and pleased to have topped the group but we know full well that we're going to have to play better next month if we are going to be successful and get to the finals."
That summed up the game perfectly.
I can't complain really, it would've been nice to have seen an emphatic victory or a more open game. But any England win, even a going through the motions one, is fine in my book, especially at the end of a successful qualifying campaign.
Hopefully the England U21's were just pacing themselves and keeping a bit in reserve for their forthcoming games.
Next up.
Tomorrow night, I'll be recording the England v Ukraine, World Cup qualifying group game at Wembley and watching it when I get home from: Harworth Colliery Institute v Thoresby Colliery Welfare, in the CMFL North.