Hello and welcome to live coverage of the most significant England friendly this week. It's England B v Ghana at Wembley Stadium: The Black Stars versus the slack stars in front of sell-out crowd, many of whom presumably bought their tickets quite a while ago. The big issue here is of course the selection of a weakened team by Fabio Capello. And here is that weakened team in full:
England Joe Hart; Glen Johnson, Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, James Milner, Gareth Barry, Jack Wilshere; Andy Carroll, Ashley Young, Stewart Downing
Only three first choice outfield players in there, Young, Johnson and Wilshere. But still it's not such a bad team if you ask me. Cahill and Jagielka make a decent pair. Wilshere is (currently) The Chosen One. Downing is much better than you remember him being. And Andy Carroll is a £35m striker and the fifth (possibly) most expensive footballer of all time so he must be great and that's all there is to it I'm not listening.
Still England really do owe everybody a proper display tonight. There has been some dissent. Stephan Appiah could certainly be happier. He says England have shown "disrespect". On the other hand John Mensah has never been tenser: he says Ghana will turn "upside down" if they win. Which brings me to my main point. This game isn't pointless because Ghana really want to win it - and so the 21,000 Ghanaians in the stadium. London is full of Ghanaians who would be delighted to beat England. So let's hope they do win. I for one am backing Ghana tonight, despite having supported England - occasionally tearfully - in every one of the 400 or so England matches I've watched since the 0-0 draw with Morocco at Mexico '86 (damn you, infuriating and indolent Glenn Hoddle).
On the other hand, that 4-3-3 is quite interesting isn't it? And Wilshere, Young, Downing, Carroll. It's... kind of interesting isn't it. Gah. Stop it England B.
Bristol Chris is feeling it too: "Barney, despite all the negativity, I think I'm Ghana enjoy seeing the Black Stars back on our screens again. I think most of us fell in love with them in South Africa." Then again, Dirtymac is feeling the B-team-actually-look-better-than-the-A-team vibe too. "With the amount of complaining people are doing about Fabio's fielding of a B team, the line up looks pretty bloody good. Besides, up until the game against wales, the A team has hardly set the world alight (I just spent the last three minutes trying to fit a proper Hannibal or B.A. Barracus quote into that, just not working though.)"
Those teams in full:
England Hart, Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines, Milner, Barry, Wilshere, Downing, Carroll, Young.
Subs Green, Lescott, Parker, Jarvis, Welbeck, Defoe, Crouch, Bent, Carson.
Ghana Kingson, Pantsil, Vorsah, John Mensah, Lee Addy, Adiyah, Annan, Agyemang-Badu, Kwadwo Asamoah, Muntari, Gyan.
Subs Adjei, Opare, Inkoom, Derek Boateng, Tagoe, Ayew, David Addy, Jonathan Mensah, Kumordzi, Clottey, Sowah.
Referee Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)
Hmm. Hope Jarvis gets on. He is a really decent winger. Wellbeck is intriguing too, for obvious reasons. Pretty underwhelmed by the rest of them on that bench. Filler.
Quite a few familiar faces in the Ghana team. Note: Jonathan Mensah/John Mensah. It's like the Gary Stevens/Gary Stevens golden era of the mid 1980s.
Dan Smith muses: "Damn you Capello. It's so much harder supporting Ghana when the usual bunch of repellent underachievers aren't included. What's the point of hating Phil Jagielka?" There is no point. I believe he is even quite likeable. Leighton Baines has an endearing little face. It makes you sick.
Here they come down the tunnel. Although Ghana seem to have just sent the mascots. Where are they? Robin Hazlehurst writes: "Given that the nature of many of England's unpleasantly arrogant self-anointedly 'golden' generation have put many people off supporting England for a while, I'd say that it is nice to see some different faces in the shirts. Maybe this lot will care about the team more than about themselves (or maybe not, but you can hope...). After the World Cup Capello was roundly criticised for not having a clear out, so maybe we should welcome it, at least a bit, now? I know it's for the wrong reasons, but that doesn't make it the worst thing that could have happened." Yeah. Barry is a bit of a weird one. Why's he captain? He's a reserve. Give it to nice Joe Hart.
Out they come. Capello high fives the ball-boys, waves to the crowd and does a forward roll down the red carpet. Not really. Instead he looks a bit cross and walks off to his seat without saying a word.
National anthems now. Ghanaian one rapturously received. the droning intro to God Save The Queen quickly stamps all over that.
Rob Watson seems to sums something up :"I'm an England fan, but I really want Ghana to win tonight to teach Don Fabio and the FA suits a lesson in the importance of African football and the need to offer a proper sporting spectacle. But I also want Cahill and Jagielka to have a great game so we can start to edge out embarrassments like Terry. What do I do??"
In the interest of non-club-bias I should point out that other England embarrassments are also available. But he has a point. Maybe, maybe this is actually a really fascinating night for England supporters. Eh?
1 min England kick off and keep the ball for a bit, thrusting down the left through Carroll, then switching to Johnson on the right, who absolutely skins Muntari, but flaps his cross miles past the waiting clutch of hopefuls. Good start this for the young shavers of England B.
3 mins England free kick on the left and a chance for the big lads to trot forward and rumble about in the mixer, but Young overhits it. That was a waste. In previous England regimes Don Howe/Graham Taylor/Lawrie McMenemy would now be standing on the touchline raging about hitting the big lads etc... Capello merely frowns. A bit more.
5 mins It's a bit physical this. Ghana have gone flying in a couple of times. This isn't the tallest or strongest England team and Wilshere in particular has taken a bit of a pounding on one or two occasions. Not what you normally get in a friendly. Downing has looked quite bright so far for England. James Lancaster asks: "Further to Dan Smith's musings at 7.51, who do you think are the most repelling and attracting England players? As for repellers, I'd suggest Rooney, Terry and Cole (obvious I know) and Zamora or Fielding if we are aiming a little more leftfield. As for attractors I'd go for Wilshere, Walcott, Johnson (Adam not Glen) and Henderson." Rooney? I like Rooney.
7 mins Massive chance for Gyan, running in behind a very square England defence and advancing in on Hart, but he dithers a little and Hart makes a good smothering block at his feet. That looked a certain goal at one stage but Gyan seemed to run out of steam. This is a proper game. Back down the other end Downing crosses with his left foot from the left and its cleared for a corner. It's end to end, ahem, stuff.
10 mins Some nice stuff from England now as Baines, Milner and Young combine very neatly and it ends with Young blasting over from a decent position. It was Adiyiah who missed that chance by the way. Although, it was also a fine save from Hart. Downing looks very bright so far for England and there goes Carroll galloping like a mustang after Milner's flick, mane flapping, legs pumping and - blimey - he's really quite slow. Easily overhauled by the defence. Is that a lack of match fitness? He looked like a man running on sand there, maybe even a man running on sand in a pair of must-have Louboutin heels.
13 mins It's a good game this. Ghana are really up for it and England are being dragged into a contest. It's like a tournament game, really intense. Hope it lasts. And.. wow, Young has a shot from the left hand edge of the area, slipping past Vorsah beautifully and curling a shot towards the top corner that Kingson palms away well. He has some sublime skills at time, the spindly Young. Lovely little touch from Downing to set him up as well. Why are Villa so crap? They shouldn't be.
16 mins Free kick to Ghana 30 yards out. Muntari lines it up and swirls a horrible left-footer miles over the top. He gave it a very long, ponderous build up too. Nathan Davis writes: "Downing & young have got to swap wings. Downing's got the beating of his full back but it's pointless as he has no right foot!" He plays right for Villa. Actually crosses very well with the outside of his foot. Mark Gillies asks: "You might like Rooney as a player, but would you want to go for a pint with him?" Yes. Yes, I would. As long as he was paying (for our ludicrously overpriced VIP cocktails). And as long as we didn't have to go to on to any special clubs or anything afterwards.
19 mins Young and Downing continue to roam nicely. Carroll continues to lollop and gambol and snort in the middle. He's in his early 20s. This is as fit and mobile as he's going to get. Terry Miles asks "Is John Terry at the game tonight possibly watching from the England Captain's box while sipping on a national cuppa and snarfing down Hilda's cheesy bits a la Rumpole of the Bailey?" I have no idea.
22 mins Nice defending by Cahill, stretching to head clear under pressure after some neat passing from Ghana's midfield. Bevan Jones asks "If Papa Bouba Diop was 'the wardrobe' (my favourite footballer nickname) whilst at Fulham, then what nickname would you give Mensah? The guy is huge." Is he that huge? I don't know. If he's really huge, or huger, how about "Im". Gyan has a shot from 40 yards. It was going like a rocket. Hart palms it down.
25 mins Young hits the bar! How did Young hit the bar? Lovely work from Milner on the right wing, cuts back a low ball across the box, where Young, unmarked hits the bar from five yards. Downing had put Milner in with a superb run and pass and Young has just perpetrated one of the the misses of the season. Andy Townsend suggests that he "hit it too well". Get out of it. That was a shocker.
27 mins Brilliant save by Joe Hart. Muntari puts in a free kick from the right, Adiyah clips it back across goal from about five yards out and Hart springs back to palm it away. Great reflexes, stunning agility... Just keep doing that. That's all we ask.
30 mins England have a free kick 25 yards out after Young is fouled. Downing goes for the little dink, but it's over-flighted and it flumps on to the top of the net. Luke Stevenson is clearly insane: "I know no manager ever would, but, Downing for Rooney permanently? At least Downing looks mildly bothered about what he is doing. Plus he is twice the footballer." Downing is good. But, you know. On the subject of Villa and why are they so crap Tracy Mohr notes: "Monsieur Houllier, please come to the courtesy phone."
32 mins Amazing mistake from Joe Hart. The England goalkeeper just passes the ball very gently to the unmarked Gyan near the touchline close to goal. He looks so surprised he forgets to run in and score. That was bizarre. On pints with Rooney Jon Gold writes: "I think you're right - he'd probably be good fun for a pint or two, but I certainly wouldn't want to hang around for more than that. Also, a question, what would you talk to Wayne Rooney about, apart from football?" I'd probably talk about popular TV shows, or high street fashion, or the Great Vowel Shift.
35 mins Ghana have been looking quite strong in midfield for the last few minutes. Wilshere and Barry are being bypassed a little, and Gyan is very lively, maybe even a little too quick for England's centre halves when he gets them isolated. Ghana have just put together about 20 passes and Wembley almost erupted. Ha ha. so much for England's pressing game. Not so easy against a team that can pass and move. On language and Fabio and all that Fritz points out: "On the subject of Capello's command of the English language - how good was the German's coach command of Greek when they won Euro 2004? And Hiddink's Korean / Russian / Turkish? If language is that important, Capello shouldn't have been allowed in the job in the first place. If it's not, then it doesn't make a difference how long Capello has been in the job." Fair points.
39 mins Bit of a lull after all the unexpected fury. Jagielka just beat two men and made a nice little pass. Very smooth. He's like an own-brand Rio Ferdinand.
42 mins England have had a bit more of the ball. Barry is playing a kind of 50-year-old Ray Wilkins role, crab like in his shielding role. Peter Green sighs "Admittedly so far it's only happened once, but I fear Carroll will go the way of Crouch at international level, i.e. giving away a free kick every time he challenges for a header, whether he has fouled the man or not." He already has the exasperated face and imploring gestures. He does have some skills though.
43 mins GOAL! England 1-0 Ghana And there it is - Carroll's first goal for England. It's a fine low shot too, with never a header or a flick on in sight. Lovely play by young and Downing to set him up, culminating in Downing's nice little lay-off, which Carroll simply thumps left-footed into the bottom corner. That was a really brutal finish, only ever going in one place. And well done Andy Carroll. May there be many more.
45 mins HALF TIME. England 1-0 Ghana. What an excellent half of football that was (for a friendly), capped by a very good goal. Ghana really set the pace early on, and England responded. It could easily be 2-2. Caroll snorts off with a new spring in his gallop. Give him a sugar lump.
I'll be back in a bit with more of your views plus my own searing, hastily typed analysis.
As Phil Sawyer notes: "This is fun! England friendlies aren't supposed to be fun. Yet another blot on Capello's copybook. He just doesn't understand English football." Mark Gillies adds: "Can we invite Ghana to be the opposition for all our friendlies? This is great fun.
As for what you would talk to Rooney about other than football... I'm sorry - are you suggesting blokes in the pub discuss anything other than football? Blimey." That's a bit Baddiel and Skinner isn't it? what is this, Nuts Magazine?
On Rooney pub chat Joshua Reynolds asks: "I like to think of Wayne Rooney as going off on Andy Rooney style rants all the time. "What's the deal with this jabulani ball? It just flies all over the place!". Is this reference too American?" No. I've seen Seinfeld.
Mark Judd mumbles: "Having a rudimentary grasp of English doesn't appear to have done Kenny Dalglish any harm." And by the way that Young miss was terrible. One for the amusing festive bloopers DVD. With some parping music in the background and a commentary by Tim Lovejoy or DJ Spoony.
Russ Down is admiring some traditional centre forward play "Did you notice Carroll shove his marker to the floor as Young's ball came over for Downing? No wonder there was no one near him. Sneaky stuff." A few other people have mentioned that. Man to man, I say. Shoulder to shoulder. Play on. And David Hindle is having a Glen Johnson moment: "He was supposed to be rubbish and Liverpool apparently want to get shut. But hasn't he been quietly very, very good indeed the last game and half for England, and not shabby at all for his club recently either? Or maybe I'm wrong?" The thing is, I've had this too. Don't get sucked in. He will let you down.
And David Penney wants some credit, finally: "This is funny, during the World Cup I was moaning to a mate that Capello should utilise the oodlums of pace in available to the squad with Young, Walcott or Downing playing flying inside forwards with a creative player in the middle and a lump up front and OH LOOK WHAT HE'S DOING WELL ISN'T THAT A SURPRISE." He's not even said "thanks". In Italian or whatever. It really doesn't matter.
46 mins Ghana kick off again and Lescott has come on for the newly-brilliant Johnson. Jagielka has gone to right back. And right away Wilshere makes a nice little run and tees up Young, who bends one like Young (leaning back, over the bar), but a bright start. Nice little pass from the almost immobile Barry in there.
49 mins Can Ghana keep up their furious pace of the first half? Jagielka gives the ball away dangerously, Gyan rumbles forwards and England get away with it as he chooses the wrong pass. Luke Crane also wants to talk to Rooney, but not about football-blah "I'd like to talk to him about The Waste Land, not T.S Elliot's but Spandau Ballet's "we made our love on wasteland." I think he's more Spandau than Duran." I believe he loves a ballad, but a manly ballad, a bruiser ballad Tony Hadley style.
50 mins Wilshere is hacked down twice in five seconds. He gets up, but Ghana have won the ball and Asamoah is just offside as the ball is poked through. They are going after Wilshere a bit, and they're all much bigger than him. Muntari lashes a shot wildly over the bar from 25 yards.
53 mins Boateng in midfield for Ghana is an immense man. He's just gone right through Wilshere, Milner and Barry all in the space of ten seconds, fairly mind, just using his massive bucking lumbering power. Maybe England should send on Scott Parker, or David Batty, or Geoff Capes.
55 mins England have gone off the boil a little. Ghana are dragging this match back their way, winning the midfield. Tom Seavers writes: "If you think the England is exciting (and it is) then you should also know the Holland game is a belter. 5-3 currently, and doesn't look like the scoring has finished. Also some youngster called van Nistelrooy has just scored - looks a prospect. Also can we all agree now that Gerrard should be nowhere near this England first team now?" Whuh? We're not that good. Milner is in the team for chrissakes.
56 mins Badu bursts through the middle and is brilliantly tackled by Cahill just as he looked like he was about to have a go. Badu went on and on there.
59 mins All hands to the pump for England as Muntari whips a free kick across the box and it's almost bundled in, then after a bit more flapping and wrestling Paintsil has a shot that's deflected over the bar. From the corner Jonathan heads just over. Ghana could have scored three times there.
60 mins Muntari is off and Andre Ayew is on. He's a talent. Carroll is also cantering off to be replaced by the forgotten man of goal-hanging Jermain Defoe.
62 mins The fearsome Boateng has just kung fu kicked Milner in the jaw. Milner responds by waking up, finally, having a little run forward and shooting low, forcing Kingson to make a fine save. Now Ayew has just gone in nastily on Cahill. Ugh. Both he and Boateng were booked by the way - in a friendly! Kari asks: "For those of us on the wrong continent to watch this game (North-America) how are Ghana playing? Are they similarly inventive and disciplined as they were at the World Cup?" They are strong, aggressive, sure of touch, pacey in attack, but maybe just a bit lacking in precision near goal. They certainly put you under a lot of pressure, both with their power and their ability to keep the ball. It's fun to watch.
65 mins Baines, by the way, has played the last three minutes in his socks. He's still playing in socks. Against Ghana. He's the hardest man in football.
66 mins Cahill climbs above Mensah and heads just wide. Nice leap from the musclebound Bolton pivot.
69 mins Ghana are still controlling the midfield and having the better of possession. they really should have scored there too: Gyan found himself four yards out near the byeline and simply thrashed the ball comically into the side netting. Terrible attempt at a "finish".
70 mins Matt Jarvis is on for Wilshere. It's his debut and congratulations to him for that, a man who missed out on the England age-group treadmill and has made his own way. Christopher Pownall is wrong: "Tony Hadley was a raving woofter. Rooney would be into U2, the Stone Roses or some real man's music." And Mike Atkins is noodling about in his ethnic head-dress enjoying the sneaky Badu references.
73 mins Bad pass by Downing almost lets in a Ghanaian thrust down the left. David Hindle makes an interesting point: "Is it me again, or do Ghana look like a side Jose Mourinho might have built and managed? It's just awesome waves of power. It's vintage Chelsea essentially. Fantastic game though, thanks to both sides." Essien-like, but crucially missing a just a touch of Essien.
75 mins There's a bit of needle out there now. Now Milner is booked for comically late and slow and heavy-legged lunge on Gyan. He really is a most un-athletic international footballer. Free kick 30 yards out, but after much jostling and pointing and pushing Gyan floats a terrible free kick over the bar. David Keith asks: "Barney, were you just foolishly following that moron doing the commentary? Baines simply changed into white boots which match his socks. After somehow avoiding being sent off earlier." Yes - I am. But... Are you sure? The white boots were left out for him. Before that he was clearly bootless for a bit.
78 mins That Moron makes a good point. Just before the World Cup English football was in a panic over whether Gareth Barry would be fit in time. Ha ha ha.
81 mins Jarvis has had a few decent touches by the way. And now Jagielka's down after wrenching his knee. Oh dear. I think he's OK though. And look - here comes Danny Welbeck, almost of Ghana, coming on for Young and my the noise is enormous, 21,000 Ghanaians are booing him and that is an amazing sight, never seen anything quite like it.
83 mins Jarvis out on the right wins a corner. Downing, playing on the left now, swings it back in and Barry attempts a kind of tumbling dad-ish overhead kick that skews wide. Back down the other end Gyan chases down a weak back pass and almost deflects Hart's kick into the net. He's got an astonishing amount of energy, the bustling Sunderland hitman.
86 mins Baines puts in a nice low cross from the left that England's Brave Danny Welbeck almost gets on the end of. Good keeping by Kingson to block it. On potentially-ironic homophobia/chauvinism Phil Sawyer writes: "Raving woofter? Real man's music? I'm impressed that Chrisopher Pownall has managed to email from the 1970s, before the invention of the interweb. Is this a kind of reverse Life On Mars?"
88 mins Jarivs and Welbeck almost link up for England on the right - and who would have thought it eh? This game is gradually congealing right now. On the excellent Jarvis James Eagle writes: "Couldn't care less about tonight's FA money-spinner other than it's excellent to see Jarvis get a call-up - he was magic for Gillingham back in the day. Any of the dazzlingly knowledgeable readers care to confirm him as the first current or former Gill ever to play for England?" Tony Cascarino could have got a game.
90 mins Ghana, with admirable stamina, mount a final surge. They really have been excellent tonight. Just no end product. So far.
90+1 mins GOAL! England 1-1 Ghana. Wow, what a great moment at Wembley. Gyan scores for Ghana and it's a lovely goal, twisting and turning away from a posse of England players, some poor defending from Lescott in there, and he curls it into the corner expertly. Delirium in the Ghanaian corner.
90+3 mins FULL TIME England 1-1 Ghana. What a brilliant game that was - and just the right result at the end. Ghana's players look delighted, genuinely moved to have come and put on a great show. The crowd are waving their flags. That really is what a friendly should look like. Are they free next week?
After all the low-fi build up we've just seen an excellent game - and an interesting one too. Plenty for Capello to chew over after that. Downing and Young were good in the wide men roles, Cahil and Jagielka looked pretty solid at the back, Baines is No2 to Cole and Carroll has an England career ahead of him. Ghana were excellent. Gyan really deserved his goal, Boateng was passionate and powerful in midfield and it all brought back the best of the World Cup.
That's all from me for now. Thanks for all your emails. Barney.