England U19s 0, Germany U19s 1
There was an air of expectation at the B2net on Tuesday night as the stadium played host to its first international match, writes Andy Hibberd.
It was a perfect night for football - cold, fresh even, but with neither wind nor rain to mar the occasion.
The pitch looked to be in perfect condition too and demand for tickets had outstripped supply. There was a promise of a bum in every one of the 10,400 seats.
And why not? This was no ordinary match; this was the new new era of a grudge match that has been at the forefront of the beautiful game since that controversial winning goal at the 1966 World Cup; this was England v Germany for the next decade or so.
Forget Ferdinand, Gerrard, Terry and the other elder statesmen of the national squad, this was the U19s, England’s hopes for 2014 and beyond.
Nobody in the crowd was talking about 2010 but as sure as a football is spherical it was on the minds of most of the 9,141 fans at the self-proclaimed premier sporting venue in north Derbyshire.
Expectation turned to anticipation as the 22 gladiators took to the pitch and for a while the crowd was rallying behind the team as play dashed from end to end, albeit that for most of the time it was very firmly at the England end.
A Mexican wave made it five times round the stadium, faltering only slightly on each round as it passed in front of the posh seats. Sadly, when the crowd is concentrating on a wave it means there is nothing much grabbing their attention on the pitch.
However, at around 35 minutes, a lofted England shot drifted across the goal and clipped the post, bringing a momentary burst of support from the crowd.
With only minutes of the first half remaining, England’s young goalie fumbled in his box, twice, and the Germans showed no mercy as Denis Thomalla belted the ball into the net.
England had no answer and went into the break a goal down.
Anticipation was reduced to hope when the Germans started the second-half as they finished the first and for those of us sitting about 12 yards off England’s goal line there was little to look at for long periods other than the German goalkeeper wandering aimlessly over Chesterfield FC’s near-perfect turf ... we were quite literally watching the grass grow while at the other end there appeared to be something vaguely resembling a football match going on.
With easily 15 minutes of play left people started leaving the stadium. For those sitting near your commentator it wasn’t that they had seen enough, it was more a case of not having seen much at all for 45 minutes.
But as hope turned to despair, the England youth seemed to find their first wind and the action moved into the German goal mouth.
For just a few minutes it looked as though a draw could be snatched from the jaws of defeat but it wasn’t to be so and despair turned to dismay as the final whistle blew.
Sorry boys, the crowd may not have lifted your game but you didn’t lift the crowd either and I, for one, am not holding out much hope for 2014.
England: Lee Nicholls, James Hurst, Jack Robinson (Luke Garbutt 68), Conor Coady, Tom Thorpe, George Taft, Wilfred Zaha (Saido Berahino 60), George Thorne (Jake Nicholson 68), Connor Wickham (Jordan Slew 60), Will Keane (Jordan Obita 46), Tom Ince (Kieran Kennedy 78). Subs Not Used: Jed Steer.
Germany: Bernd Leno (Marc-Andre Ter Stegen 46), Julian Korb (Max Dombrowka 46), Marvin Plattenhardt, Christopher Avevor, Shkodran Mustafi, Mattias Zimmermann, Akaki Gogia (Yunus Malli 62), Reinhold Yabo (Florian Trinks 62), Lennart Thy (Elias Kachunga 68), Denis Thomalla (Pelle Jensen 90), Felix Klaus (Alexander Riemann 68).