Heberle heartened by signs of positive progress

Ireland 0 England 2
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The Independent Online

Sarah Blanks, the Leicester striker playing in the England midfield, opened the scoring two minutes into the second half with a good open-play goal as England went on to beat Ireland 2-0 in the second of their two Tests in Belfast yesterday. Anna Bennett added England's second.

The teams drew 1-1 on Saturday, with England's equaliser coming from Denise Marston-Smith in time added on. Ireland's goal had come three minutes earlier from Kate O'Brien.

For England's Australian coach, Tricia Heberle, who took up her appointment last February, it was a satisfying start. "This has been a real learning weekend. It is still apparent that we need to improve on basic skills, become fitter and develop greater mental resilience. But the signs are positive and the whole exercise has been worthwhile." Heberle used her three newcomers, 19-year-old Frances Houslop, Rachel Walker and Helen Grant, in both games. Her next challenge will be in South Korea at the end of the month when England face the Olympic Champions Australia in their first game in the Korea Telecom Cup.

* Adrian Wilkinson, who is expected to win his first England cap next weekend in Poland, scored twice on Saturday as England beat their Under-21 squad 6-1 in a practice game at Bisham Abbey.

ENGLAND: K Roberts (Chelmsford); M Nicholson (Slough), F Greenham (Slough), R Walker (Olton), K Moore (Olton); S Blanks (Leicester), D Marston-Smith (Clifton), L Wright (Olton); H Grant (Olton), J Smith (Slough), A Bennett (Canterbury). Substitutes used: T Cullen (Hightown), F Houslop (Canterbury), L King (Ipswich), P Miller (Leicester), C Reid (Hightown).

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