Sometimes, when you watch an
international, you think to yourself, why did I watch that?
This was one of those games.
Quite frankly it was awful!
Roy Hodgson decided to go with what was almost a
first choice eleven for this final 'friendly', but the problem was
that it was painfully obvious that the
players were desperate not to receive an injury before the real action
starts in a week's time.
That led to, what I call, 'don't pass the ball to me tonight' sort of
play, as some of the England
players shirked their responsibility.
Unfortunately the Honduras
side had but one thought too, and that was to rough
up. Their over-physical
approach was hardly conducive to
England's plan for a quiet night.
And then, of course, there was the weather!
With 22 minutes of the match gone the mother of all
thunderstorms rolled round the stadium and the referee deemed that the
horrendous lightening was a danger to life and limb!
So the play was suspended for a total of 41 minutes.
When the players returned there were more stoppages than there
is in a rugby match, as player after player hit the deck with an
As for the actual football, there was very little
incident of note. Most of
England's chances were only
half-chances and they were all squandered.
Danny Welbeck shot wide, Rooney's free-kick was saved,
eventually, and then Welbeck and Rooney messed up after good play by
Adam Lallana had set up a half-chance.
Steven Gerrard saw a free-kick blocked and then just before the
enforced break Daniel Sturridge had the best chance of the match to
date, but just pulled his shot wide of the far post.
At the other end Honduras
failed to trouble Joe Hart, although credit to Gary Cahill and Phil
Jagielka for matching the physicality of the Central Americans.
The two central defenders certainly didn't shirk their duties,
that's for sure!
There is no doubt the break was unsettling, and
yet another hiccup to England's build-up to the tournament, but it was
the same for both sides and when the game restarted it was Honduras
who looked more up for the fight, quite literally.
Emilio Izaguirre was the first in the book for a foul on
Sturridge, and he was lucky not to see red for kicking the ball into
the Liverpool player's stomach after the free-kick had already been
given. Honduras certainly
didn't take any prisoners with their challenges and there was a
serious danger to England's players.
Jordan Henderson was one England player who did
impress on the night, and he showed tremendous energy as he linked the
play with Gerrard.
Henderson combined with Sturridge in one attack, but the ball was
cleared. Before half-time
Lallana shot wide and Jagielka had a header easily saved.
Wilson Palacios shot wide following a deflection from the only
real chance for Honduras.
The half-time score said it all as neither side looked remotely like
scoring apart from that one Sturridge shot that went wide.
Surely the second-half would be better?
After the break Gerrard and Rooney went off and
Hodgson sent on Jack Wilshere and Ross Barkley, and immediately the
pair injected a little bit of life into the play.
But Victor Bernardez and Brayan Beckeles were both booked after
more unfair physical play.
On 53 minutes, a good move down the left ended with Leighton Baines
seeing his cross deflected for a corner, and then a minute later a
superb burst by Barkley set up Sturridge again, but his attempted lob
went well wide. Sturridge
was trying to be a little too clever with his effort when perhaps
power might have been the better choice for his shot.
Wilshere and Barkley then combined but a saving tackle stopped
the Everton player. On 59
minutes Welbeck and Lallana also combined in a good attack but
Welbeck's shot was saved by the keeper.
Two minutes later Lallana was booked as frustration grew within
the England ranks.
There was some sloppy play from England at times,
as when Glen Johnson ruined a good attack with some poor control.
The stop-start nature of the match made it a poor spectacle and
the referee finally lost his patience after Beckeles went in on Baines
with his arm hitting the Everton player first, before the rest of the
challenge took him out, a second yellow followed by a red card for the
Worryingly, England had rarely troubled the
goalkeeper, and more substitutions from both sides upset all of what
little continuity there was left in the play.
Henderson's fine pass almost set up Lallana on 68 minutes, and
Baines put in another 'nearly' cross, which came to nothing.
Then, out of the blue, on 73 minutes, England looked certain to
score. Johnson sent over a
perfect cross from the right on to the head of Sturridge, but the
'in-form' striker only succeeded in heading the ball well over the
bar. In that one moment
the quality of the match was summed up.
The remaining minutes was just a succession of substitutions,
fouls, bookings, more fouls and bad-tempered exchanges.
If only they had ended the match when the storm came, because
it wasn't a bad game up to that point!
England now move on to Brazil with the nation's good wishes still very
much with them. Oh, how we all
want them to do well! This
match was a necessary evil, but it is gone now and everyone can now
focus on the real thing. As for
Honduras, well, if I never see them again it will be too soon!