The England Lionesses took centre stage on Tuesday in their first competitive fixture since March 2020. They beat a Northern Ireland side 6-0 at St George’s Park.
England previously had plans to play Germany and Norway in October and December respectively, however those games were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
How the teams lined up
England: Roebuck (Maclver 61′); Bronze, Houghton, Williamson (Wubben-Moy 75′), Greenwood, Scott (c), Stanway, Nobbs (Toone 46′), Daly (Salmon 84′), Hemp (Kelly 61′), White (England 76′).
Unused Subs: Hampton, Turner, Mead.
Northern Ireland: Flaherty; Nelson, Magee, McFadden (Kelly 74′), Holloway (Finnegan 83′), Wade (McDaniel 73′) McCarron (McKenna 57′) Caldwell (Burrows 84′) Callaghan (Watling 58′) Furness, Magill.
Unused Subs: Hutton, Wilson, Howe, Haughey, Clifford.
As It Happened
Both sides made positive starts to the match, with England holding the majority of the possession in the opening ten minutes.
Becky Flaherty in the Northern Ireland goal was forced into some early saves by England’s attacking players.
Ellen White put the hosts in front after just 18 minutes on the clock, taking full advantage of the defensive error and found the net.
Five minutes later, she doubled the lead as the pressure began to pile on Northern Ireland.
Two Manchester City teammates then linked up as a low cross by Lauren Hemp found Lucy Bronze who didn’t miss from a few yards out.
Throughout the second half, interim manager Hege Riise handed out four senior debuts.
One came for Manchester United’s Ella Toone as she replaced Jordan Nobbs in midfield.
Just a couple of minutes after the restart, White got her hat-trick. A great ball to her by Jill Scott set her up nicely to put the ball into the corner of the net. That goal brings the striker’s goal tally to 39 for England.
Just past the hour mark, Riise gave Everton goalkeeper Sandy Maclver her debut as she replaced Ellie Roebuck. They both kept a clean sheet after the emphatic friendly.
Bronze provided the Lionesses’ fifth goal as her cross was met by Rachel Daly who bundled the ball into the net at the near post.
Chloe Kelly – who was also brought on just after the hour mark – made a very lively impression. She drove at the Northern Irish defenders and drew a foul inside the area and earning a penalty.
Debutant Toone stepped up and converted the spot-kick with confidence, sending the Sheffield United goalkeeper the wrong way.
150 and counting
Today didn’t just celebrate the return of the Lionesses but also marked Jill Scott’s 150th appearance.
Scott made her debut back in 2006 where she replaced one of her role models Kelly Smith against the Netherlands.
Since then, Scott has been ever-present for England and has been involved in many major tournaments, including the third place World Cup bronze medal match in Canada 2015.
The midfielder opened the scoring in the 2019 World Cup when her side faced Norway – bringing her goal tally to 25.
On such a special occasion, Scott was presented with the captain’s armband by long-time teammate and friend Steph Houghton.
Hege Riise: “We had six goals four players getting their first cap, and also we pushed for 90 minutes and wanted more goals.
“We tried to find the pockets of space and run at them and we showed character. I would say the performance was good.”
Kenny Shiels: “We have six first team starters out so the girls that came in did a fantastic job. We’ve got to work on a lot of things to try and get ready for April and this was brilliant for us.”
The Lionesses are next in action 13th April against Canada.