Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Ghana late show caps carnival friendly

England 1 Ghana 1: Jonny Gould reports from Wembley.

Isn't it great to see a Wembley friendly played with vigour, commitment and passion for a change? With the amount of players from the Premier League on both sides, I suppose we shouldn't have expected anything less.

The sheer size and carnival of Ghana's support ensured it was never going to be just a kickabout. The match sold out a fortnight ago and the visiting contingent were given a bigger share of the stadium.
Asamoah Gyan's deserved late strike

Despite being a second string, Fabio's alternatives played like they believed they could make the starting XI. The England boss had earlier released Chelsea's trio of Terry, Lampard and Cole along with Rooney and Dawson.

But Aston Villa pair Stewart Downing and Ashley Young looked lively and Andy Carroll, back after injury led an adventurous 4-3-3 formation.

And though Carroll's left-foot strike at the end of the first-half looked set to give England victory, not even the most ardent home fan would begrudge Ghana's equaliser struck by Asamoah Gyan.

So what can Capello have learned from a friendly without the backbone of his senior players? Well, no one seemed overawed - and the only way to deepen a squad is through match experience.

Jack Wilshere gives us a glimpse of the next generation, Leighton Baines is a lively back-up for Ashley Cole and Andy Carroll gives us tactical options upfront, so different as he is from Wayne Rooney.

But it was more of an exhibition than a proper game; at times our defending, ball control and understanding were suspect. We're quite some way from winning a tournament.

But as a big England fan, I'd love to be proved wrong.