Two further defensive errors cost England a win against Canada at Stoke as they looked to put their weekend defeat behind them. The Lionesses have now suffered a total of nine defeats out of their past fourteen international fixtures.
England: Telford (Bardsley 46′), Daly (Bronze 64′), Williamson, Bright (c), Stokes (Greenwood 32′), Kirby (Toone 46′), Nobbs, Parris (White 80′), Hemp, Stanway and England (Kelly 64′).
Unused Substitutes: Maclver, Roebuck, Wubben-Moy, Morgan, Turner, Scott, Mead, Charles and Walsh.
Canada: Labbé, Scott (c) (Riviere 66′), Chapman, Zadorsky, Quinn (Schmidt 82′), Beckie, Rose (Prince 59′) Lawrence, Fleming, Gilles and Viens (Huitema 59′)
Unused Substitutes: Forster, Grosso, Carle, McLeod, Listro, Rose, Agnew, Chang, Lacasse, Strattigakis and Hellstrom.
The Lionesses fell behind in the opening few minutes. The ball was lost in midfield, which was then regained and played backwards. Demi Stokes was caught in possession and Évelyne Viens took advantage of her mistake, thrashing the ball past Carly Telford.
England looked to get back on level terms immediately. A long range effort from Georgia Stanway just narrowly went wide. Arsenal’s Jordan Nobbs then delivered a free-kick from the right wing. However, an awkward bounce prevented Beth England from getting the equaliser.
The home side began to pile on the pressure midway through the first half. A corner taken resulted in a free kick on the edge of the box because a foul on Fran Kirby. Stephanie Labbé rose to the challenge, tipping Nobbs’ effort over the bar.
At the 30-minute mark, a pre-planned substitution took place. Alex Greenwood replaced Demi Stokes. This came from the advice of the England medical staff following a recent injury picked up by the left-back.
When play resumed, Canada had a chance to add a second goal to their tally. Yet, Telford was able to push Quinn’s long range shot over the bar.
Manchester City’s Lauren Hemp had a burst of pace and danced her way through the Canadian defense. Her pass picked out an off-balance Bethany England who’s chance for the equaliser before half-time went begging as her attempt was well wide of the target.
England interim head coach Hege Riise’s team went into the break 1-0 down.
There were two changes made at the break. Manchester United’s Ella Toone replaced Fran Kirby in midfield and a change in goal saw Carly Telford make way for Karen Bardsley.
England started the second half strong, looking to get on level terms. They dominated possession and created numerous opportunities at goal.
Possession then began to favor Canada as they put the hosts under some pressure. Another Canadian counter attack saw Nichelle Prince’s cross dealt with comfortably by the OL Reign loanee Bardsley.
England’s defense seemed to be showing a few leaks as the central defenders weren’t dealing with the ariel threats of balls into the box. The visitors continued to keep possession.
Following a foul on Prince, Manchester City’s Janine Beckie stepped up to take the free-kick. Her cross delivery was a decent one and club-mate Bardsley didn’t look the favourite to claim it. However, Bronze eventually cleared her lines, giving away a corner in the process.
Running out of time
The corner taken was easily dealt with at the near post and led to a potential counter attack. Nobbs made a powerful driving run towards goal. Her final ball across the field was met by Toone who couldn’t make the most of it.
England then had another opportunity to equalise. Lauren Hemp drove at the Canadian defence and delivered a low cross in. In the decisive moment, nobody could get on the end of it.
Into the final ten minutes, Ellen White replaced Nikita Parris to add further attacking threat. Still trailing to Canada’s early goal, the Lionesses were on the hunt for an equaliser. They applied a high-press approach that allowed Hemp to win the ball high up the field. Yet, the recovering Vanessa Gilles was there in the nick of time to block her effort on goal.
Minutes later, the referee then played a drop ball. As a result, Prince immediately put England’s backline under pressure as she chased the ball played over the top. Captain Millie Bright blocked Prince off the ball and played it back to her goalkeeper. However, Bardsley took a heavy touch and the on-rushing Prince took full advantage of England’s defensive error, poking the ball into the back of the net.
The international window came to a close with Riise’s Lionesses losing both of their fixtures.
Player of the match
Georgia Stanway played the entire match after not featuring against France at the weekend. She tested the Canadian goalkeeper a number of times with long range efforts. Overall, she looked the most likely of scorers for England.
The midfielder never stopped running and always wanted to play forward. At times, she also executed her defensive attributes by making important interceptions and blocks.
Manchester City’s number 10 was impressive in all areas of the pitch. She also linked play very well with fellow midfielder Nobbs.
Speaking after the game in the post-match conference, Stanway said, “We played really good football, the statistics were on our side but we are just not getting there in the final third.
“We are disappointed in ourselves for not creating enough and not finishing off those final balls.”
As Team GB head coach, Riise is set to name her 18-player Olympic squad in around a month’s time.