From my seat in the Frank Adam’s stand I felt the cold of a march night. However I’m sure Jack Butland felt it even more, as he had very little to keep him warm in the England goal. With Romania struggling all game to string a series of decent passes together to put them in range of having a decent shot on goal, England had it very much their own way and ran out comfortable 3-0 winners.
However, even though the score line was in their favour, Stuart Pearce would agree there is still some work to do before the England U21’s venture out to Israel to play in the European Championships. England, One of 8 teams qualifying for tournament in Israel will have some much stronger competition to uproot in order to progress through the stages to lift the silverware.
Raheem Stirling looked strong on the wing and in the first half was one of the only players that looked to threaten the Romanian defence. Apart from Wilfred Zaha of course, who managed to bag his first U21 Goal with a nicely placed shot from just outside the box. Although Zaha did play with the flair and excitement that has earned him the reputation he has at such a young age, he did, in the second half become complacent, looking rather lazy with some of his first touches. This will have to be hammered out of him if he is going to be one of the top players in the competition this summer.
The main disappointment from a coaching stand-point will be the lack of movement off the ball. Connor Wickham was sent onto the pitch short before the end of time and showed the kind of movement that will be needed more often to cause problems against stronger opposition. The forward constantly moved inward looking to pick up the ball in a less advanced position and combine with the wingers and midfielders. For this reason I’m hoping he gets more playing time before the summer.
Also England sat too deep and allowed to much space in midfield, although this didn’t really affect them in this game as the Romanians weren’t able to capitalise, more technically gifted midfielders from other teams (Ignacio Camacho for example) will be able to use this against them.
I also believe the absence of Tom Ince from the England Squad showed. He has often shown when running out for the U21 team that he is every bit the player that many people believe him to be, bagging goals and being instrumental in England’s build-up attacking play. He will have to be on top form for the U21 side if they are to lift the U21 European championship.
The biggest disappointment from the night however was the early injury suffered by Henri Lansbury, after breaking into the box, he was challenged by Laurentiu Branescu the romanian goalkeeper and limped off to be replaced by Nathan Delfouneso. Nottingham forest fans will be hoping that it was nothing to serious and he will be available for their match against Brighton at the end of the month.
The score line from this game is what was expected, with the England side never really needing to step it up a gear. Here’s hoping their game at the Amex on Monday night against Austria is a more difficult fixture for the team to help them prepare for this summers tournament.