Bomb scare delays U21 game

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The Independent Online
England Under-21 0 Poland Under-21 0

There was a lock-out here last night as England's Under-21 European Championship qualifier with Poland was delayed until 10pm while the Army dealt with a security alert.

A controlled explosion took place at 9.30pm after the army unit was called in from Hereford, 60 miles from Wolverhampton, following the discovery of a "suspect package" by a steward at 6.20pm.

More than 6,000 supporters were left standing outside in the rain, many of them giving up the wait long before the match finally started, after what the package was found in a wastepaper bin in the lower tier of the John Ireland stand. The package, covered in silver foil and measuring six by three by two inches, was X-rayed, but those tests proved inconclusive, so the Army was summoned.

The foil proved to contain nothing more dangerous than a sandwich.

Chief Supt Roger Allen, of the West Midlands force, said: "The package was behind where the Royal Marines band would have been sitting. With explosives going off recently in Ireland and other parts of the country security obviously has to come first."

After such a long delay it was no great surprise that the match did not proved a feast of goals. The crucial moment came to minutes in the 47th minute, when Riccardo Scimeca, Gareth Southgate's understudy at Aston Villa, suffered a similar fate to his club colleague and missed a penalty to cost England victory.

Scimeca, limited to one substitute's appearance for Villa this term, had the opportunity to put Peter Taylor's ahead after Leicester's Emile Heskey was felled by Krzysztof Nowak in the penalty area.

Poland looked the better side for much of this nocturnal occasion with England goalkeeper Andy Marshall, currently on loan with Bournemouth from Norwich City, forced to make two excellent first-half saves.

England (3-5-2): Marshall; Duberry, Scimeca, Thatcher; Newton, Holland (Morris, 71), Butt, Humphreys (Thompson, 46), Hall; Scowcroft, Heskey (Branch, 71). Substitutes not used: Rufus, Davis (gk)

Poland (3-5-2): Szamotulski; Zawadzki, Bosacki, Zewlakow; Szymkowiak, Piekarski, Nowak, Malinowski (Kocyba, 65), Kaliciak (Tarachulski, 78); Dubicki (Paluch, 59), Mieciel. Substitutes not used: Janowski (gk) Moskal.

Referee: M Lica (Romania).

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