England Starting team : Hart, Walker, Cahill, Smalling, Rose, Dier, Rooney, Alli, Lallana, Kane, Sterling
Subs used : : Vardy for Kane, Sturridge for Sterling, Rashford for Lallana,
Well you have to hand it to Roy Hodgson in sticking to his guns in fielding the ‘same’ England dubious starting line-up against Wales as performed unsuccessfully against Russia in the first match of these finals. But did you think it was his foolhardy courage or simply his normal ‘head in the sand’ approach to major challenges, eh? Well, it turned-out to be the latter, didn’t it?
In terms of forwards he was therefore once more only fielding one recognised striker in Harry Kane who despite his poor performance against Russia certainly had to be played. However, starting with Raheem Sterling whose persistent poor form was fully evident in the first crucial match, just perpetuates the manager’s mistake in taking him to France in the first place, and leaving the likes of proven strikers like Carroll and Defoe at home. When you HAVE to score goals why the hell does Hodgson think that playing a shed load of midfielders to gain possession is the answer, one can’t help but wonder? We all knew that Gareth Bale was going to get a goal for Wales, so it was no surprise when he did so just before halftime to open the scoring. During the break, the unanimous shouts of the football studio pundits for substitutions were obviously loud enough to penetrate even Hodgson’s skull, and at long last he sent out two of his three remaining strikers Jamie Vardy and low confidence Daniel Sturridge, to replace two of the forwards – striker Kane and midfielder Sterling .
In basic terms big boys England pulverised poor little Wales, who hung on in there in magnificent fashion. However, it was not to be their day, as first Vardy equalised after ten minutes on the park and then England sneaked a fluke win through substitute Sturridge at the very-very end – indeed after 2 minutes of injury time no less – when he had been playing twenty minutes.
This was another unconvincing performance by an England team that the Manager had boasted was capable of winning the whole tournament – well it would be nice if they started showing some promise, wouldn’t it?
Nevertheless, this lucky win could well have set-up England to proceed to the knockout stage, as they are well placed to proceed with 4 points, and Wales aren’t out of it either with 3 points
[However England get on in the future games of this competition, it has to be said that Roy Hodgson’s performance so far in these finals has been dire (as some of us had predicted, eh?]