Last night fans from around the country descended on Oakwell for it’s first Under 21 international in 10 years. A decade ago fans were treated to appearances by up-and-coming stars such as current England captain John Terry, National Team regular Gareth Barry, as well as current and former premiership regulars such as Nicky Weaver, Shola Ameobi, Ledley King, Luke Young, Jonathan Greening and Darius Vassell – all of whom now in their 30’s. Of course none of these household names were eligible to play last night, however it does beg the question as to whether we’ll be looking back in another 10 years and reminiscing upon the success of the likes of Ben Amos, Andre Wisdom and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal respectively.

Within the last 10 years it’s safe to say that there has been a change in the emphasis on youth in England. It appears now that by having made a name for yourself in the lower leagues you can be subject to increasingly expensive moves, with 7 and 8 figure fees of the present replacing the 5 and 6 figure fees of the past paid out for young talent. Prime examples of this were available for selection last night, with Arsenal new boy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain having just completed an initial £12 million move from Championship new boys Southampton, as well as Connor Wickham who made the move from Ipswich to Sunderland this summer for £8 million.

Despite our youth team being embellished with increasingly well-known names, fans attending last night’s game could have been excused for thinking that last night’s opponents Israel had a contrasting affair in terms of household names, with possibly only former Barcelona and current Manchester City youngster Gai Assulin being a familiar name within England, and only a fraction of the cash splashed in England being splashed on youth in Israel.

Onto the game itself then, where England, sporting their new dark blue away strip, started off brightly, enjoying some impressive sequences of passing through the midfield, with Everton’s Ross Barkley showing early signs that he could pick a great pass. The three lions also appeared solid at the back, which featured former Rochdale favourite and graduate of Keith Hill’s training programme – Craig Dawson. However despite being dominant in possession, England could not find a cutting edge up front, with Watford’s impressive goal getter Marvin Sordell often looking isolated within England’s 4-3-3 formation. The old cliché goes that whilst on top, you have to take advantage, and England were foolish enough not to heed that advice after going behind following a series of Israeli counter attacks, with Mohmedd Klivat eventually scoring a stunning effort in front of the south stand, which rightly gained a round of applause from the 9000 strong crowd. There was little action of note in the remainder of the half, although centre back Nathan Baker was taken off as a precaution at the end of the half to replaced by Swansea loanee Steven Caulker.

The second half came and with it came 3 further substitutions, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replacing Jonjo Shelvey, Adam Smith replacing Andre Wisdom and Henri Lansbury replacing captain Jack Rodwell. The emphasis had indeed changed to a more attacking side, with England passing much quicker and making much more happen upfront. England’s endeavours eventually paid off, with Martyn Waghorn nodding in a cross from Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right hand side in the 58th minute. Oakwell would then be rocked by a goal to remember only 2 minutes later, with Marvin Sordell scoring a screamer from 30 yards to send England into the lead. It was now becoming easy for England, and Israel, who had struggled to get into the game throughout, were now struggling to get the ball from Stuart Pearce’s side who were increasingly growing in confidence.

It was effectively game over when Nathan Delfouneso of Aston Villa came on to score from the spot after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was allegedly fouled in the box in the 82nd minute, with Delfouneso cooly dispatching the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal. The final goal came from another cross by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, which found former Norwich and Watford loanee Henri Lansbury, who scored another impressive effort.

Sponsor’s man of the match – Marvin Sordell

My man of the match – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. It does feel harsh not to award it to Sordell, who scored what was probably one of the best goals I have ever seen, however Chamberlain really lifted the team in the second half and was directly responsible for 3 of the 4 goals – you can see why Southampton fans will miss his influence after losing him to the Gunners.

Teams and home ratings:

England: Amos (6), Wisdom (6), Baker (6), Dawson (6), Bennett (8), Rodwell © (6), Shelvey (5), Barkley (7), Gosling (6), Waghorn (7), Sordell (8)

Subs: Smith for Wisdom (6), Caulker for Baker (6), Oxlade-Chamberlain for Shelvey (9), Lansbury for Rodwell (8), Gardner for Gosling (6), Delfouneso for Waghorn (7), Wickham for Barkley (6)

Unused subs: Briggs, Rudd, Flanagan, Butland

Israel: Kleyman, Davidzada, Mayo, Falah, Botbol, Assulin, Bitton ©, Klibbat, Tzemah, Vered, Barough

Subs: Zizov for Botbol, Lugassi for Assulin, Kehat for Klibat, Barough for Dabbur

Unused subs: Dasa, Mund, Abu Zaid, Gordana, Strauss, Micha, Zairi

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