It’s ‘Arry wot won it for

England 1 - 1 Poland (1973) - World Cup qualifier - October 17th, 1973


As they finally beat some country that isn’t called Moldova or San Marino in their World Cup qualifying group. Hang your heads in shame Montenegro.

No doubt after Andros Townsend’s goal scoring debut for England against Montenegro ‘Arry Redknapp has dislocated his shoulder trying to pat himself on the back. After all the F.A. can’t pick an England manager but he can’t half pick a player.

Townsend’s loan spell in the second half of QPR’s ill fated 2012/13 Premier League campaign has been the making of the player in many ways, finally getting first team football in the top flight after the previous few years of loans out to eight different lower league clubs. Of course it won’t be pointed out to ‘Arry that some of those games could have come for Spurs when he was really needed. How many times did ‘Arry shift players out of position and completely bugger up the team because Lennon was on another of his injured stints and a winger was required. It was certainly the case in Redknapp’s last season in charge.

A bold choice by Roy – the man who wouldn’t be king if all those that texted ‘Arry had their way, or those that ‘Arry claims – picking Townsend. Why? These two games required two wins, what with Ukraine guaranteed 3 points against San Marino in their final fixture. Going in with Milner would signal that Roy was going for a draw and England can’t play for a draw even when it’s all they need.

Though in his defence Roy did back up this choice with the dullard midfield of Lampard and Gerrard.

I have to admit during that first half my attention wandered. I blame a number of factors. ITV being a major one. Having to watch online means that when a game is that dull it’s easy to get distracted by other delights – especially with decent connection that doesn’t bugger up the stream. With Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend droning on and those two in the midfield offer nowt it was left to either Townsend or Baines to give the required width and of course that meant getting the ball from Gerrard and Lampard which meant stopping them for going for individual glory so it didn’t happen as much as it should.

So everything was boringly predictable and easy to lose interest in. Just so live and exclusive on ITV.

Second half had more about it so was viewed a bit more. It of course all started with a Townsend run. Wasn’t the best cross in the world, led to Welbeck’s decent shot, good save from the ‘keeper and luckily Rooney was there tos cuff it under the ‘keeper’s body after a nice first touch.

Second nearly fifteen minutes later was equally as lucky. Hump up from Hart, good nod on from Welbeck and a nice back-heel by Sturridge back, for Welbeck’s cutback to be nicely placed into his own net by Boskovic. It was another 15 minutes or so before the third was added though of course before this with fans, commentators and players all cocky that job was done, Montenegro got one back.

Gerrard acting like a true captain just minced back not bothering about the opposition getting forward with the ball, they’d already done it earlier which ended with a shot off the woodwork. This time though an inept shot turned into a cross for Damjanovic to stick his foot out and cut the lead by half.

Their joy was short lived though as Townsend performed his party piece and even though there was no real competition cement his man of the match award. Nice harrying work by Welbeck allowed Townsend to pick the ball up in the middle of the park, running at those in red as he did all night – and so many don’t and can’t do – he for once changed tack and didn’t have a blast with his left – which had led to nowt previously – but went with his “weaker” right. Off the post and in.

As both Roy and ‘Arry jumped out of their seat and proclaimed boy can I coach – this may or may not have happened.

Just time for Sturridge to win and score a penalty in the dying seconds to put even more gloss on a scoreline that flattered England yet again, as they finally beat a country with a population just bigger than Glasgow, after a number of draws. Apparently before this game the only country England had played more than once and not beaten.

Which neatly leads to Poland at Wembley needing victory to qualify, 40 years minus two days on from the date England needed to beat Poland at Wembley on October 17th 1973. Dropping star player, dropping manager’s favourite, shot after shot, save after save, Tomaszewski, clown,lost possession, defensive error, ‘keeping clanger, Poland one up, one all, no World Cup.

Could history repeat itself?

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