The pair made up two of three debutants in Gareth Southgate’s new-look England squad as qualification for the European Under-21 Championships in 2015 got underway at Reading’s Madejski Stadium with a 1-0 win against Moldova.
The decisive goal arrived with 13 minutes on the watch which was scored by West Bromwich Albion’s Saido Berahino, who converted Tom Carroll’s pass inside the area.
It could and perhaps should have been more for England, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort, with Wilfried Zaha and Will Hughes having notable attempts at goal in the second half.
Saints’ Ward-Prowse, who has started all three Barclays Premier League games for his club this season, was offered a first crack at U21 level for the first time having also impressed for the Under-20s at the World Cup in July.
He played 65 minutes in a deeper central midfield role before being replaced by Derby County’s Will Hughes just before the midway point of the second half.
Luke Shaw meanwhile, made it fifth time lucky after pulling out of four previous call-ups with illness/injury. The full back completed all 90 minutes and looked comfortable throughout playing on his favoured left side, even popping up for a couple of attempts at goal himself.
Shaw and Ward-Prowse also shared corner taking duty on the night for England
Ward-Prowse and Shaw now turn their attentions to the 21s’ trip to Finland on Monday, where both men will hope to keep their places in the side.
Elsewhere on Thursday evening, Calum Chambers represented England at U19 level. Chambers captained the side and was originally credited with opening the scoring in a 6-1 win over Estonia in Tallinn, though the goal was later given to James Wilson of Manchester United as the Young Lions’ romped to victory. It was the first qualifying round match ahead of the 2014 U19 European Championship for Noel Blake’s side.
to read Luke Shaw's verdict on the game
to read James Ward-Prowse's take on the match