USA worthy winners over England


Published: Friday 13th February 2015 by The News Editor

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England Women avoided the pitfalls that saw them humbled by Germany and almost pinched a draw against the United States in Milton Keynes.

Alex Morgan’s header midway through the first half handed the US a 1-0 victory in the friendly international, but England had a reply from Jodie Taylor wrongly disallowed for offside as a rare break forward almost proved highly fruitful.

Having been bold and picked three strikers against Germany, who inflicted a 3-0 drubbing at Wembley, England boss Mark Sampson reined in the attacking instincts and shored up his midfield against the world’s second-ranked side.

In tenacious 21-year-old striker Fran Kirby, handed her fourth cap and named player of the match, England looked to have a special talent who could have a big impact in the World Cup this summer.

It was from her 25-yard shot that US goalkeeper Ashley Harris tipped against the bar that England should have had their leveller, with Taylor touching in on the rebound. Replays showed Taylor, who plays in the US for Portland Thorns, was clearly onside when Kirby offloaded her strike.

That was one of few highlights in England’s display. The United States, two-time former World Cup winners, were worthy victors, controlling the contest and pinning the hosts back in their own half for long stretches.

England fell behind when Morgan stepped off marker Steph Houghton to head home Lauren Holiday’s inswinging delivery from the right flank, with goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, born in California to English parents, only able to palm the ball into the roof of the net.

Home captain Houghton almost put through her own net just before half-time too, nodding Meghan Klingenberg’s cross from the left just a foot wide of Bardsley’s left-hand post.

The United States were beaten by France on Sunday, but they posed a major threat and in former world player of the year Abby Wambach had a striker with a breathtaking 177 international goals.

Kirby, the 21-year-old Reading prospect, was seeking just her second strike at this level and found herself crowded out as she looked to penetrate the watertight American defence early in the second half.

She might have scored in thrilling fashion in the 56th minute though, only for Harris to touch her drive against the woodwork, and was as frustrated as Taylor when the apparent goal on the follow-up was ruled out.

With the England threat later waning, Sampson sent on senior figures Eni Aluko, Fara Williams and Lianne Sanderson for the closing stages, in an effort to pep up the performance.

It had the desired effect and England finished strongly, but ultimately not strongly enough.

Published: Friday 13th February 2015 by The News Editor

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