Three Blues represented England this afternoon when Phil Neville’s side beat Denmark 2-0 in their penultimate ‘Road to France Series’ friendly.
With just over two weeks until the Lionesses begin their FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign against Scotland in Nice, this was an important victory against UEFA Euro 2017 runners-up Denmark.
Millie Bright started in her usual centre-half position, with Karen Carney (pictured above) and Fran Kirby named on the bench. Goalkeeper Carly Telford was rested in the stands for today.
Bright had the first notable chance of the game for the Lionesses when Rachel Daly delivered a deep free-kick into the no.6 who was waiting unmarked at the back post, but her half-volley flew over the bar.
Denmark almost took the lead on the stroke of half time after England’s defence were caught off guard. The visitors forward, Signe Bruun, crept in behind the Lionesses’ back line and netted beyond Karen Bardsley in goal. However, the Lionesses were let-off when the referee blew her whistle and controversially disallowed Bruun’s effort. The Denmark attacker was judged to have handled the ball as she brought it down from the air.
The Lionesses reacted immediately and broke the deadlock 30 seconds into added time of the first half. Jill Scott, who was named today’s captain, was pulled down on the edge of the area which warranted a free-kick. Beth Mead clipped the ball into a busy box and as Denmark failed to clear the cross, Nikita Parris was there to take it down and drive her effort beyond Katrine Abel in goal.
With half hour left to play, England doubled their lead in beautiful style. Georgia Stanway drove through the heart of midfield and calmly passed the ball out to Mead on the left flank. The Arsenal attacker fizzed the ball into the back post and it was headed into the net by Scott from close range.
Phil Neville made a double substitution straight after the goal with both our Blues, Carney and Kirby, coming onto the field of play in replacement of Stanway and Parris. Kirby, who missed last month's friendlies against Canada and Spain, got stuck into the game immediately. A scramble in the Danish box left the no.10 on the floor due to being unfairly pushed and despite Kirby calling for a penalty, the referee signalled play on.
Chelsea Women captain Carney came on in her left midfield position and her pace and energy caused the Danes problems. She managed to wriggle past her marker on numerous occasions to supply crosses into the box for her England team-mates. An alert Kirby almost got on the end of one when she pounced on the loose ball but her effort drifted just wide.
Despite a slow start for the Lionesses, the two strikes either side of half-time were enough to edge a win over Denmark in the Midlands at Walsall's Banks' Stadium.
Phil Neville is bound to shuffle his pack around again when they host New Zealand in their final warm-up friendly on Saturday 1 June at Brighton & Hove Albion's American Express Community Stadium (1:00pm kick-off).
Elsewhere, Ali Riley has played two games with her New Zealand side in a space of five days. The Blues player and her team suffered a 5-0 defeat to current Women’s World Cup champions USA. However, her side bounced back and recorded an important 2-1 win against Mexico on Wednesday, as well as achieving her 125th international cap.