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Thursday, May 25, 2006

England B 1 Belarus 2

We were not to expect much from this game other than seeing an XI aiming to support their inclusion in the squad and a run out for the little known in the Three Lions shirt. The match kept up to a lively pace and I thought England began well enough, particularly through Aaron Lennon on the right wing, similar to Shaun Wright-Phillips. On occasion he would jig a little then touch and go, and the Belarussians had no answer to his immediate bursts of pace. Michael Owen had a chance on the left, came to a tight angle, could have played it easier to Peter Crouch parallel to him but decided to go with a shot instead which cannoned off the keeper, Crouch indicating the easier choice. Crouch was more or less in the game and showed his ability to hold the ball and touch it off, played in one or two or simply played it back so he had a decent game, albeit I wished he could have been utilised more in the box. Stuart Downing looked good, again good co-ordination with Ashley Cole on the left, Jermaine Jenas took time to come into the game and had a excellent run to increase the lead, Owen to his left but then ran out of focus and was fouled.

Jenas' goal came courtesy of a Downing floated freekick that actually found Owen in an offside position, blatantly so I wondered what it would take for the officials to have noticed it. Owen headed on well, it came off the post, the keeper was stranded and an open goal invited Jenas to head in. Jamie Carragher and Sol Campbell kept good command at the back, David James keeping well in goal. Come the second half, come one change of James for Robert Green, who then quite incredibly went to take a goal kick and miskicked the ball, dropping to the ground in some major discomfort. The ball came to Sampdoria man Vitaly Kutuzov and he deposited the goal into the net. It has been suggested Green had ruptured his groin initially by going down to stop a Maksim Romashchenko freekick, which went through his hands and legs but wide, and then it was aggravated when he took the goal kick. This spells a non-participation for the Norwich keeper in the World Cup, sadly, and our best wishes for a full and speedy recovery go to him. Liverpool's Scott Carson took over.

So the goal counted and the game went on. Crouch was getting into the game much more with some neat touches and ball control, at one time leaving three Belarus players behind during one attack, but nonetheless England couldn't make out enough pressure on the Belarus goal to score. Belarus continued to have trouble with Lennon's pace, and Sergey Omelianchuk fell to the bait on occasion, booked for one foul and then again unceremoniously minutes later for his dismissal. I think David Platt said it best that though England linked up well in Belarus' half, we didn't have enough cohesion to actually make more of an impression on the visitors. Matt Dawson came on for Stuart Downing, Carragher would move to right-back, Owen Hargreaves to centre mid, Cole to left midfield, Dawson with Campbell. Two minutes later Belarus picked up in our half and were allowed to break into the box through Sergey Kornilenko , who was followed by Dawson but still managed to cut an angled effort before Dawson's block, past Carson. I think England hadn't recovered from Green's injury.

That is how it ended. The result for me was not an issue, the individual performances were. Overall we had done good, Lennon clearly showed he has something he can add to our strengths to give us an edge, Theo Walcott came on officially for Jenas but replaced Owen upfront and he made his mark quickly in the game with an abruptively stopped dash and then a shot from some 25 yards. Downing and Michael Carrick had a decent game too, there were a number of pluses which were good and that is what we needed to come out of the game more than a result.



Blogger T said...

Absolutely spot-on commentary Redsman.

Such a shame to see Green collapse to the ground after taking the goal-kick. The injury sounds an awful one and I hope he makes a full recovery. Your description of the way Lennon can regularly beat a man with a burst of pace and close control is very accurate- and he underlined yesterday that his potential to be a super-sub at the World Cup is high.

Walcott did very well with his 30 minutes on the pitch- he was taken out unceremoniously by two Belarussian defenders when on the verge of bursting through on goal... and his 25 yard shot packed a good punch. Well done Walcott!

Despite his goal I don't think Jenas served his cause too well- and after a sharp start I thought Carrick faded. I like Carrick's game- and hope he can step it up in the next couple of friendlies.

Finally, England started with a 4-4-2. Does this mean that Eriksson plans to start with this formation at the World Cup? And if it does- does it mean that Lampard and Gerrard will be the CM partnership? As I've said before on EFT- I doubt whether this works (and in the past it has not worked) because both are primarily attacking CM'S who likes play alongside a more defensive CM partner so to concentrate on their attacking game.

Hopefully we'll get more of an idea of Sven's preferred formation and team in the upcoming matches against Hungary and Jamaica.

5/26/2006 12:26 pm

Blogger SKG said...

i think the main plus point to come out of the game was owen not feeling any pain in his foot. lennon and walcott did well and could cause defences problems in the WC, especially as substitutes.

i can see sven starting with crouch and owen with gerrard and lamps as the two central midfielders. i think this will get us through the group stages but when we come up against top quality opponents, sven will need to replace crouch with carrick and give gerrard the advanced role.

or rooney might be back . . .

5/26/2006 10:31 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Two fair assessments on Jenas and Carrick, corroberated by other match reports I've read. I wondered if Dawson introduction, which switched Carragher from centre back, had significance in their second goal, as if Dawson had not come to terms with the pace of the game until 10mins later. With Eriksson due to play four in defence, he would have to introduce an understanding between Lampard and Gerrard OR introduce Ferdinand to drop and sweep until centre mid recover back. Ferdinand has acquainted himself with midfield before, just like King. It could be a solution more comfortable than to fight it out between the central midfielders.

Carrick is another solution, meaning 3-5-2. At the moment it is something of a jigsaw puzzle of many pieces, and with patience and a number of placements, bit by bit Eriksson could form a strong unbeatable team. Against the more difficult sides, a holding man could be the only winning answer.

Sir Alex is not comfortable of Rooney going to Germany, I dont think the Scotsman himself could stop Rooney if the squad medics consider him fit enough to travel. Rooney will want to play. I hope he does.


5/27/2006 12:36 am

Blogger Skippy said...

I am very excited by the prospect of watching Walcott and Lennon in the World Cup. They both did well, and played with no fear.

5/28/2006 11:24 pm

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Thanks for the report Redsman - appreciate it! I wonder if I can get a crack at watching Hungary...

It's funny reading all these reports on Lennon and must do wonders for the the pressure is off the big boys...apart from Owen and his medical scan on his thigh just yesterday.

The only think I saw was a repeat of Green's unfortunate injury...and also Walcott's ferocious drive. Impressive control! Now I wonder why Wenger hasn't played him yet! HA! Well..I do have hope for Walcott...but he's more likely to be a super-sub...and give people the run-around in the last 20mins of any game.

Didn't see ANYTHING of Lennon...but I hope he gets a chance. His only big that he is up against that's a mighty obstacle in terms of getting on the pitch.

Fingers crossed the England team get their act together tonight...don't know how good Hungary are going to be.

5/30/2006 8:28 am


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