England will go into the Women's World Cup with expectations realigned after a discouraging defeat against hosts Canada in Hamilton on Friday night.
Though it took an exceptional goal from Sophie Schmidt midway through the first half to beat Mark Sampson’s team the lionesses looked anything but contenders in their final warm-up. Fara Williams nearly snatched a late equaliser when she hit the bar from long-range, but as her effort appeared to be a mis-hit cross not much solace can be drawn from it.
Sampson fielded another experimental line-up with Lucy Bronze and Steph Houghton making their England appearances since suffering knee injuries, striker Toni Duggan at right midfield, and Lianne Sanderson paired with Ellen White in attack.
Sanderson scored all three goals in England’s previous two matches against Canada, Cyprus Cup wins this March and last, but never had a chance this time. Few England players did, though Houghton went close with one of the few decently executed set-plays with the game goalless.
Had that gone in England may have settled, but they seemed stunned when Canada scored out of the blue. Schmidt’s goal, a sweetly-hit first time strike from the edge of the box, appeared to catch Karen Bardsley flat-footed. The ‘keeper did, though, later make a sharp save to prevent Schmidt scoring at the near post early in the second period.
A series of substitutions saw brief improvement from England but Canada, in front of a good 23,197 crowd, were untroubled aside from Williams’ freak effort.
England, playing very deep and conceding possession too early through long balls, appeared to have trouble adapting to the 3G surface which will be used for all World Cup matches. A wild shot from Alex Greenwood in the final minutes, with everyone in the box expecting a cross, summed up their lack of composure. There was also a shortage of width with the full-backs reluctant to get forward and one wing position filled with a series of inappropriate players.
On the plus side several players who were short of match action had a run, experience was gained on the artificial turf, and it should be borne in mind England are still adapting to the conditions and time change. They have more than a week to go to further acclimatise before they start their tournament. Nevertheless, a sharp improvement is required before they meet France in Moncton on June 9.
England (4-4-2): Bardsley (Manchester City); Bronze (Manchester City), Houghton (Manchester City), Stoney (Arsenal), Rafferty (Chelsea); Duggan (Manchester City), Scott (Manchester City), Chapman (Chelsea), Carney (Birmingham City); Sanderson (Arsenal), White (Notts County).
Substitutes: Williams (Liverpool) for White 61; Aluko (Chelsea) for Sanderson 61; Greenwood (Notts County) for Rafferty 61; Kirby (Reading) for Chapman 73; Moore (Birmingham City) for Carney 83.Reuse content