SO after the downpour comes the damp squib.
SO after the downpour comes the damp squib.
England's propensity for doing things the hard way was evident in Warsaw yesterday as they continue to nudge their way towards the World Cup 2014 finals.
A tense, frustrating 1-1 draw with Poland in their delayed qualifier may have kept Roy Hodgson's side in pole position in their qualifying group.
But the Three Lions are still struggling to convince against their main rivals for a place in Brazil.
Wayne Rooney's third goal in his last two internationals had given an undercooked England a barely-merited lead in the 31st minute, only for Joe Hart's headstrong rush from his goalline to allow Kamil Glik to nod in a deserved equaliser 19 minutes from time.
Having been held to a similar scoreline against Ukraine at Wembley last month, England, while knocking over minnows such as Moldova and San Marino, are finding their serious Group H opposition a more difficult nut to crack.
With six more qualifiers to play, there remains sufficient scope for this result to be a mere inconvenience than any great terminable blow.
Hodgson, though, will be happy to have escaped with England having negotiated arguably their toughest away assignment.
“Time will tell whether this is a good result,” said England captain Steven Gerrard.
“The lads are disappointed, particularly after taking the lead, and we know we can play better than that.
“I believe this will be a good point come the end of the group, but we’ll have to wait and see.
“Our points tally could be a lot better but this is a tough place to come.
“I don’t think many teams will come to Poland and take more than a point.”
England spent a month in Poland during the summer's Euro 2012 finals without playing a game in the country, their wait extended by a further 20 hours by the shambles of Tuesday evening's postponement.
And for too much of yesterday's game, they failed to perform.
Gerrard, along with left-back Ashley Cole, was left just one cap away from reaching the 100 mark for England after Hodgson saw no reason to change the side he had named for the postponed match the previous day.
After the kerfuffle of the previous evening, the closure of the retractable roof ensured there would be no problems about the game going ahead.
However, while the now infamous pitch heating system in Warsaw's National Stadium had been working overtime since the game was called off, the pitch remained sluggish with players struggling to keep their footing and gauge the strength of passes.
While several hundred England fans were in the stadium at kick-off time, the postponement inevitably meant a sizeable proportion of the 2,500 supporters who made the original trip had returned home.
The Polish fans, however, had turned out in force, although England's early calm assurance helped quieten the initial noisy home crowd.
That said, poor distribution from Michael Carrick and Rooney meant Poland carried the greater threat, most notably on the counter-attack, during the opening half-hour.
With Tom Cleverley often straying from his left midfield role, the Poles were given free reign to attack down the right.
After being grateful for a Kamil Grosicki miscue inside the area, Joe Hart had to be alert to clear the ball away from the feet of Lukasz Piszczek after he attempted to make contact on a through pass from Grosicki.
Hart, though, was guilty of initiating Poland's first real opening on 28 minutes, when his clearance fell straight to the busy Grosicki.
The ball was swiftly fed to Robert Lewandowski, who skipped past the challenge of Cleverley and into the penalty area before firing a cross-shot past the far post.
The effort may have gone for a throw-in, but the warning was there for England.
Yet three minutes later Hodgson's men were ahead, Rooney continuing his goalscoring form of this international break with his 32nd goal for his country.
Rooney was left completely unmarked to steer home Gerrard's wicked corner delivery from the left, although the effort ultimately flew in past Poland goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton through a combination of his shoulder and Piszczek.
Twice either side of the half Johnson was called upon to intervene as Poland started to threaten.
After an England set-piece had broken down, another lightning home break would have seen Lewandowski with a clear run on goal had Johnson not raced back to nick the ball off the striker's toes.
And moments after the interval, the Liverpool man was again on hand to clear before Lewandowski could pounce after Phil Jagielka's horrible miskick in attempting to clear Grosicki's cross caused consternation inside the England area.
It encouraged Poland, who began to pound away at the England defence with a succession of long balls up to Lewandowski, Hart compelled to turn over an ambitious 30-yard drive by Ludovic Obraniak.
England, though, had a shout for a penalty when a marauding Johnson went to ground under a challenge from Pawel Wszolek, although replays suggested the defender got a touch on the ball.
And they should have given themselves breathing space midway through the second half when Gerrard's free-kick found its way to Defoe at the far post who skewed his shot way off target. Another chance came moments later, substitute Danny Welbeck, on for Defoe, found by Milner's swift break and pulling the ball back to Rooney who shot wastefully over from 12 yards.
Those misses proved costly on 71 minutes when Poland equalised. Again, it was from a corner, although Hart was at fault for failing to meet the delivery and allowing Glik to head home.
England came again but, with the pitch deteriorating, the draw was the most they deserved from an indifferent display.
POLAND: Tyton, Piszczek, Wasilewski, Wawrzyniak, Glik, Polanski, Krychowiak, Wszolek (Mierzejewski 63), Grosicki (Milik 82), Obraniak (Borysiuk 90), Lewandowski. Subs: Kuszczak, Wojtkowiak, Komorowski, Murawski, Sobota, Piech, Perquis, Sobiech, Skorupski. BOOKINGS: Polanski, Glik. GOALS: Glik 70.
ENGLAND: Hart, Glen Johnson, Jagielka, Lescott, Cole, Milner, Carrick, Gerrard, Cleverley, Rooney (Oxlade-Chamberlain 73), Defoe (Welbeck 67). Subs: Ruddy, Walker, Baines, Cahill, Shawcross, Shelvey, Lennon, Adam Johnson, Carroll, Forster. BOOKINGS: Cole. GOALS: Rooney 31.
REFEREE: Gianluca Rocchi (Italy).