WITTON Albion, Cheshire Schools FA personnel and the Northwich public did a first class job for the country on Friday and it was to everyone's disappointment the effort was not reciprocated by the England players.
The evening - Witton's first such honour - went efficiently, even if the national anthem did have to warm itself up over the public address system.
Special guests, who included 1966 World Cup winner Roger Hunt, were treated royally and it was a big night for Chronicle mascot competition winners Jason Oultram and Cauley Stewart who led the teams out.
Support approached the four figure mark. Not great, but the players on view were schoolboys so it was a less attractive package than higher level internationals featuring recognised youngsters from professional clubs.
There were no emerging stars with fresh reputations on view and from England's performance on the night it was difficult to pinpoint any player likely to make the grade.
They had strength and several players of great pace, but they lacked a cohesive gameplan to make either tell against a much smaller Irish team.
But the Irish were well organised and in tigerish midfielder Aidan Watson and goalscorer David Armstrong they had two players who caught the eye.
The goal that settled the game came on 36 minutes when tiny Scott McCormick pinched the ball off giant Carl Martin on the by-line and whipped it into the middle for Armstrong to steer into an unguarded corner of the net.
Preston full-back Kyle Ingham had a precious ability to kick with both feet and stood out as England's best player. But, having beaten Scotland 3-0 in the opening match of the Centenary Shield, England did not look potential winners. Sadly, on this display, they would fail their football A-level.
For the record the team was: Dan Barker, Kyle Ingham, Charlie Rich, Carl Martin, Chris Whelpdale (Douglas Loft 69), Frannie Collin, Yan Klukowski, Matthew Green, Tom Smith (Callum Martin 56), Scott Brice, Darren Mullings (Robert Hodge 78).
Attendance: 907. nSt Wilfrid's beat Wincham 2-0 in the primary school seven-a-side match at half time.