England boss Roy Hodgson feared his team had lost some of their spark during the 24-hour delay to their FIFA World Cup™ qualifier with Poland. The Three Lions left Warsaw grateful for a point after a 1-1 draw.
Wayne Rooney put the visitors in front and missed a glorious chance to double that lead, but Poland were good value for their draw in the end and could easily have had more to show for their efforts than a Kamil Glik equaliser that came after a mistake from Joe Hart.
Hodgson accepted neither side benefited from the postponement caused by Tuesday's deluge. But he certainly felt it affected his players.
"On Monday, after the training session on the pitch, the players were looking very sharp and lively," he said. "I didn't get that impression today. I don't want to give the impression we were hard done by and our opponents weren't.
"But if a game is postponed it is a little bit easier if you are on home soil," he added. "We had that extra day and night in the hotel."
Hodgson labelled the pitch as "dead", which may have contributed to some uncharacteristically sloppy passing, with Michael Carrick among those most affected. "There was no question the pitch was playable but it wasn't suited to quick passing," he said. "Both teams made quite a few passing mistakes. At half-time we were quite surprised how many passes we had sent astray."
The positive, which cannot be dismissed, is that England did not lose and, that UEFA EURO 2012 penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy excepted, remain unbeaten during Hodgson's 11 games in charge.
Their advantage in Group H is almost certain to have have disappeared by the time they next play again in March as second-placed Montenegro, who are just a point behind, face minnows San Marino next month. However, England's durability is something Hodgson is convinced will stand them in good stead.
"When you are in a qualifying group, or you are with a league club, there are days when things don't always go your way," he said. "On those days it is very important you still come away with a result.
"We would have loved to have won it but we didn't produce good enough football to do that," he added. "But we did do enough to avoid defeat and go away with a point."
So many of England's players failed to perform. Rooney was the most obvious example, despite his 32nd England goal, and following his failure to snaffle a chance provided by Manchester United team-mate Danny Welbeck, it was no surprise he was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
"A bit of both," was Hodgson's response when asked whether the reasoning behind his decision was physical or tactical. "There was an element of physicality because it looked as though he was tiring.
"He couldn't reproduce his excellent performance against San Marino and we wanted to get a little bit more life and energy into the central area, which [Tom] Cleverley was capable of giving us alongside [Steven] Gerrard and Carrick, so Wayne moved wider. Then, when we thought he was tiring we felt it was the right moment to bring on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who gave us some fresh legs."
Hodgson believed that move worked, although Poland looked equally likely to snatch a win at the death.