England U21s 6-3 FYR Macedonia U21s
Zavon Hines scored two fine goals for England Under-21s on Friday night as they just about held their nerve to win a nine-goal thriller at Coventry's Ricoh Arena.
The West Ham United striker had entered the fray at half-time as a replacement for Theo Walcott and shone on his debut. With Junior Stanislas an unused substitute, fellow club-mate James Tomkins played the entire match as the Young Lions raced into a two-goal lead in the first half through headers from Kieran Gibbs and Micah Richards before the half-hour mark.
The visitors then surprised everyone with two goals back either side of half-time - only for Andy Carroll to restore the advantage on 54 minutes. FYR Macedonia managed to claw their way into the contest again through Gibbs' own goal before Hines struck the decisive goal in the 67th minute.
After stealing in superbly behind the defence, he kept his cool to slip the ball underneath the on-rushing keeper. Carroll then calmed nerves in the closing stages with a fifth before turning provider with a neat assist that led to a volleyed second from Hines.
All three Macedonian goals had come from England mistakes, but there was little the impressive Tomkins could do about any of them. Goalkeeper Scott Loach will feel he should have done better with the first that squeezed under his body from a long-range free-kick. Michael Mancienne then lost his marker for the second before Gibbs slashed at a corner and ended up diverting the ball beyond Loach.
England are in second place in qualifying Group 9 for the 2011 finals in Denmark, having already won 2-1 in FYR Macedonia - when Sears scored - and drawn 1-1 away to leaders Greece last month. They are next in action on 14 November against Portugal, with the match to be played at Wembley after a special request to the FA by coach Stuart Pearce.
Hines was not the only West Ham scorer in Under-21 action on Friday night. The 19-year-old central defender Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson was on target for Iceland in an 8-0 demolition of San Marino in Reykjavik. Eyjolfsson made his league debut last week for Cheltenham Town and is tipped for a bright future. Iceland make the return trip to San Marino next Tuesday.