England women played France in their third and final match of the SheBelieves tournament yesterday with both teams searching for that elusive win after narrow losses to the USA (1-0) and Germany (2-1).
Playing in Boca Raton, on a pitch that would have been deemed poor even in Sunday league football, England struggled to find any rhythm and the first half was one of negative tactics, and the inability of the England team to create or hold onto the ball, up against a France side that looked fluent and dangerous in the attack. The saviour for England was the poor finishing of France, who squandered several really good chances to score.
It wasn’t until the final few minutes of the first half that England began to find some composure and string decent passes together and they created perhaps their best chance of the game when Demi Stokes went close, after a delightful through ball from Jill Scott.
The second half couldn’t have been more different, England finally took the game to France, defended high up the pitch, creating an off-side trap that France were unable to beat.
England now had their own chances, but they too were unable to find the back of the net. In the end a draw was probably a fair result, which on its own shows how much improvement the team has made. Three games in a short period of time, and in pre-season for England, has no doubt been difficult.
Eni Aluko came on for Toni Duggan and earned her 100th cap – as a tribute Steph Houghton gave her the captain’s armband.
Mark Sampson commented after the game that the team were in a good place after a tough tournament, against three of the best sides in the world. He felt the girls would learn a lot from this and would be able to kick on and improve again.
In the final match of the tournament the USA beat Germany 2-1; Anja Mittag scored first for Germany but the USA came back with two goals within 6 minutes with Samantha Mewis leveling the score and Alex Morgan scoring the winner. Morgan was awarded the Golden Boot for her goals in the tournament and Hope Solo the Golden Glove for only letting in one goal. Although teams were so closely matched that none of the games were won by more than one goal.
Apologies for the quality of the image.
England (4-4-2): 1 Karen Bardsley (Manchester City); 12 Alex Scott (Arsenal), 5 Steph Houghton (C; Manchester City), 15 Casey Stoney (Arsenal), 14 Claire Rafferty (Chelsea); 4 Fara Williams (Arsenal), 7 Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), 17 Katie Chapman (Chelsea), 11 Demi Stokes (Manchester City); 8 Jill Scott (Manchester City), 19 Toni Duggan (Manchester City).
Substitutes: 20 Eniola Aluko (Chelsea) for Duggan 56, 2 Lucy Bronze (Manchester City) for A Scott 69, 10 Karen Carney (Chelsea) for Stokes 71.
Substitutes not used: 3 Alex Greenwood (Liverpool), 13 Siobhan Chamberlain (Liverpool), 16 Laura Bassett (Notts County), 18 Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City), 22 Fran Kirby (Chelsea), 23 Gemma Davison (Chelsea).
Head coach: Mark Sampson
France: 21 Meline Gerard, 4 Laura Georges, 5 Sabrina Delannoy (C), 8 Jessica Houra D’Hommeaux, 10 Camille Abily, 11 Claire Lavogez, 12 Elodie Thomis, 14 Louisa Necib, 18 Marie-Laure Delie, 22 Amel Majri, 23 Kheira Hamraoui.
Substitutes: 19 Griedge Mbock Bathy for Georges 54, 9 Eugenie Le Sommer for Necib 59, 15 Elise Bussaglia for Abily 77, 6 Viviane Asseyi for Lavogez 86.
Substitutes not used: 1 Laetitia Philippe, 2 Kelly Gadea, 3 Marion Torrent, 7 Charlotte Bilbault, 13 Marie-Charlotte Leger, 16 Sarah Bouhaddi, 17 Aurelie Kaci, 20 Kadidiatou Diani.
Head coach: Philippe Bergeroo
Referee: Gillian Martindale (BRB)
Next up for the England team is next month’s Euro qualifier against Belgium at Rotherham United (on Friday 8 April, 7.55pm KO).
Tickets for the game are on sale now priced £5 for adults and £2.50 for children. A family ticket (two adults and two children) is available at £10 and group booking discounts apply.
Tickets can be bought via TheFA.com/Tickets, by calling 08444 140 754 or in person at the Rotherham United ticket office.