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John Boyman's weekly look at the world of sport
3:00pm Friday 18th October 2013 in Sport
A surprisingly good showing from England
THIS time last week, I was preparing to watch England’s final World Cup Qualification games in some trepidation.
I fully expected Roy Hodgson’s men to make it through – but I was expecting a rocky ride. Fortunately, I was wrong.
What actually transpired was two of the best England performances I can remember. They were always in control against Montenegro and once the first goal had been scored, the result was nailed on.
Things weren’t quite so easy against Poland on Tuesday. The first half was a great watch, with England throwing men forward and the visitors looking a threat on the break, but there were a few moments of concern.
Once Wayne Rooney had broken the deadlock just before half-time, it was always likely that Hodgson would get his team to sit back a bit more when he got them in at the interval. Qualification was only 45 minutes away, they were leading and they had probably been a bit too open in the first half.
It was the right call – but Poland, who had nothing to play for, responded well and took the initiative. There were some more nervy moments but it was a controlled display capped by Steven Gerrard’s late goal that sealed the win.
The obvious standout player from the two games was Andros Townsend. The Spurs winger looked a threat whenever he got the ball, scoring one fine goal and crashing another excellent shot against the crossbar.
Having never watched him for 90 minutes before last week, I was very impressed and he now looks a shoe-in to play in Brazil next summer.
I can’t say I’m expecting England to win the World Cup now – I think we lack real class in the centre of defence – but I’m certainly a lot more hopeful than I was this time last week.
Congratulations to Hartley Wintney
I travelled to Clevedon on Monday night to cover Hartley Wintney’s historic FA Cup third qualifying round replay – and what a match it was.
The game had everything, seven goals, four penalties, two disallowed goals, an unlikely comeback and a dramatic injury-time winner. It was an amazing night.
Plenty of people scoffed when Ben Dillon was appointed manager at the Memorial Ground last year – and it did seem a strange decision. Ben will be the first to admit that he did not fulfil his potential as a player, with managers questioning his desire and work-ethic.
These are accusations that certainly cannot be brought against Dillon the manager. He’s done a tremendous job at Hartley, fostering an incredible team spirit at the club.
Fingers crossed they can pull off another upset next Saturday – but they will have their work cut out against a Daventry Town side who are flying at the moment.
Let me know what you think about these issues by using the comment box below or tweeting @JBoymanGazette
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