Here’s our third England World Cup match report prepared by a reader - and it’s another terrific review...perhaps more interesting than a few parts of the game itself!
The latest reviewer is Peter Gregg, branch manager of Rowcliffes Estate Agents at Chapel-en-le-Frith. It’s the largest independent agent in the High Peak and Buxton.
Peter’s task was made harder by the almost unique characteristics of the game - for once, it seemed not to matter if we won or lost...or did it?
Here’s Peter’s prose on how England performed:
After one of the most unusual build ups to an England game that I can remember, the question everyone was asking was ... do we want England to win or lose?
A surprising sequence of events would lead to qualifying in second place provide easier progression to the World Cup final, so should we rest players with a view to a defeat? Or do we keep the feel good factor going and go for a confidence boosting win?
Either way there seems to be an element of arrogance in plotting our way to the final when 2006 was our last knock out game victory!
Although the England camp showed that the thought of coming second was not entering their minds and the focus was on winning - at least to the media - we waited to see the team selection to give us an idea what they really thought.
Both sets of fans were seemingly non-plussed about the result and the lack of nerves as an avid England fan as we neared kickoff was a luxury we have not had for as long as I can remember.
But was this going to deliver another exciting game of this already enthralling World Cup? Or end up a damp squib not unlike the France v Denmark game which provided the first 0-0 bore-draw of the competition?
Both managers decided to make plenty of changes to their starting line ups.
Giving players a rest? Forward planning? A chance to for some of the other players in the camp to step up? The latter was possibly the best chance we had of seeing a competitive game with both sets of players hoping to play their way into the thinking of their respective managers with the business end of the competition on the horizon!
The early exchanges showed some promise with both teams pressing high, England trying to use the pace of Rashford and Vardy and Belgium making Pickford work with a long range effort and a goal line clearance from a spillage from the England keeper.
The remainder of the half remained competitive with a few chances, the best falling to Belgium but perhaps the most influential moments being the two yellow cards for Belgium players.
This meant only a cataclysmic disciplinary meltdown would leave England topping the group! That being the case, maybe in the second half we could just go for it!
Or maybe not... some early Belgium pressure resulted in Januzaj cutting in from the right and whipping in a delightful left footed strike into the far corner.
I have to admit, I did crack a smile and had zero negative emotion.
The game seemed to naturally open up after the goal, the England counter attacking set-up showing signs coming to fruition with Rashford being put clean through on goal only to be denied by the goal keeper, and another ball just a little too strong for him to latch on to.
England started to have a little more of the ball and passed it around well maintaining possession and creating a few slight openings, the best falling to Danny Welbeck in the six yard box in space only to poke the ball harmlessly wide.
A late flurry of activity in the England penalty box added to some final excitement but 1-0 had appeared likely for some time.
Overall, I was generally pleased that the match was competitive and both sides gave it a go. Those playing for a place in the next game, for both teams, had a large part to do with it.
England certainly had a better second half but the result..... Doesn’t really matter, does it?
The important thing is an England team - travelling to Russia with little hope of a nation behind them - have proved that we fans do have something to be excited about.
Sure, we haven’t played particularly difficult opposition but the vibe around the team, the camp that Gareth Southgate has admirably created shows there may well be some positive and proud moments to come in this World Cup.
FOOTBALL’S COMING HOME!!!
Thanks so much Peter.
And so we move on to play Columbia, next Tuesday July 3 at 7pm - its another ITV game.
Suddenly it’s all become so serious with the knock-out stage about to begin...and Estate Agent Today will be on the search for another reviewer.
If you’re interested and feel you can unleash your inner John Motson, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great weekend, and until Tuesday evening...