England welcomed four new caps and tried out several fringe players in their fir
England welcomed four new caps and tried out several fringe players in their first friendly international since losing the World Cup play-off final to France in November.
A young England side lost their friendly match 1-0 in Italy on Tuesday evening. Hope Powell's side were competing for the first ever 'Nedo Bresciana' trophy in the Stadio dei Pini, Viareggio.
And the future certainly looks bright for England as they begin their preparations for Euro 2005, with all four new caps showing their ability and 20-year-old central defender Casey Stoney proving that she could be an England captain of the future.
England started with a few new names in the starting line-up, Hope Powell giving Leanne Champ her first cap and Jody Handley playing in her third game up front with captain Karen Walker.
The new central midfield pairing of Carly Hunt and Fara Williams looked impressive throughout the first half, with Hunt's terrier-like tackling allowing the creative Williams time to start off England's attacking play.
Williams came close to scoring twice, putting a header over the crossbar in the 26th minute and sending a 30-yad free-kick just wide of the post on 33 minutes. England had started off brightly, with Karen Walker and Sue Smith also going close, but Italy began to apply more pressure as the half wore on.
Placchi made the most of Leanne Champ's mistimed tackle to score from eight yards on 37 minutes and she could have added a second in the last minute of the first half but was adjudged to be offside as she went close with a shot.
The teams went into the break with the home side leading 1-0.
Powell gave another new player a chance in the second half, giving England Under-19 starlet Kelly McDougall her first cap. Everton's McDougall came in on the right side of midfield, replacing Vicky Exley on the right-hand side of midfield.
Williams again could have got on the scoresheet, sending another free-kick wide of the left post as England pushed forward to look for the equaliser.
Powell made the most of the opportunity to bring on Laura Bassett, Carmaine Walker and McDougall to gain their debuts. With captain Karen Walker being substituted for her namesake, it was left to 20-year-old central defender Casey Stoney to take the captain’s armband, which she did with much aplomb.
Both sides made several substitutions, which meant the teams took a while to settle down into the pace of the game. While England played better in the second half than they did in the first - with Carmaine Walker and Laura Bassett impressing - they couldn't break the deadlock and went away with a defeat.
England: Rachel Brown, Rachel MacArthur (sub 62 mins Laura Bassett), Leanne Champ, Casey Stoney, Mary Phillip, Carly Hunt, Fara Williams, Vicky Exley (sub 53 mins Kelly McDougall), Sue Smith (sub 72 mins Rachel Yankey), Karen Walker (captain) (sub 72 mins Carmaine Walker), Jody Handley. Subs not used: Pauline Cope, Amanda Barr, Karen Burke, Una Nwajei, Kirsty Pealling, Rachel Unitt, Toni-Anne Wayne
Italy: Fabiana Comin, Manuele Tesse (sub 53 mins Masia), Giulia Perelli, Moriac Piacchi, Balentina Doni (sub 61 mins Diana), Tatiana Zorri, Pamela Conti, Alessia Puttino, Patrizia Panico, Rita Guarino (captain) (sub 64 mins Pasqui), Ghiara Gazzoli (sub 89 mins de Fillipo)
Referee: Ms Ditoni (Italy)