Hope Powell's England Women Seniors team enjoyed an impressive, well-earned 2-1 friendly win away to Holland.
Holland 1-2 England
18 September 2004
Vicky Exley marked her captaincy debut with a goal and substitute Amanda Barr hit the winner as a makeshift England team came from behind to collect a well deserved victory as they continued their build up to the 2005 UEFA European Women's Championship finals.
An England line-up showing five changes - four of them forced through either injury or club commitments - from the side which lost 2-1 to Russia last month went behind to a 37th minute goal by Dutch substitute Sylvia Smit.
But Doncaster Rovers Belles midfielder Exley, handed the skipper’s armband due to the unavailability of Arsenal’s Faye White, equalised in first half stoppage time.
And Barr, who had replaced 17 year-old debutante Eni Aluko, struck the winner 18 minutes into the second half.
Substitute Kelly McDougall wasted a good opportunity to put the issue beyond doubt and England had some anxious moments at the back in the closing stages, but they were the better side for the majority of game which they started cagily but gradually took control.
Everton striker Jody Handley had a 20 yard shot deflected just wide in the 11th minute, then eight minutes later Aluko wasted a fine opportunity to score a debut goal. She got behind the Dutch defence to collect a Katie Chapman through-ball, but from 12 yards the young striker put her shot too close to goalkeeper Marleen Wissink.
Exley had an angled 15 yard drive saved by Wissink in the 35th minute, but seconds later at the other end – and in the first moment of real danger for the England defence - midfielder Monique van Veen struck a 12 yard volley into the side netting.
That was a narrow escape, but there was no way England were going to survive a second scare when central defender Casey Stoney and right back Laura Basset got into an almighty tangle on the edge of the penalty area to give Smit all the time and space she needed to guide home the opening goal.
A similar mix-up three minutes before the interval almost cost a second goal but, when striker Lisanne Vermeulen’s shot evaded keeper Leanne Hall, Bassett was this time on hand to clear the ball off the line.
England drew level with the last kick of the first half, Exley controlling a Handley cross before sending a low shot beyond the diving Wissink and just inside the post.
When the visitors went ahead 18 minutes after the break it was thanks to a defensive blunder on a par with England’s earlier error. The Holland back four were casually passing the ball amongst themselves when Barr nipped in to side-foot an eight yard shot past the stranded Wissink.
Substitute McDougall should have wrapped up victory in the 84th minute, but from six yards she scooped a shot over bar from fellow-sub Jo Potter’s low cross.
England almost paid for that miss a minute later, when substitute Sandra Muller sent a weak effort straight at Hall after breaking free of the England defence.
And only a tremendous saving tackle by Exley prevented Dutch captain Annemieke Griffioen, a recent signing by Bristol Rovers, from equalising three minutes from time.
But England held on to record their first away victory since beating Holland in The Hague in March 2002, at the same time helping to erase the memories of a poor performance which led to August's 2-1 defeat by Russia at Bristol.
Holland (4-4-2): Wissink; Scheenaard, Meulen, Koster, Hogewoning; Louwaars (Smit, 17), Griffioen, Brouwer, van Veen; Melis, Vermeulen (Muller, 66).
Subs not used: Hoogendijk, de Boer, Burger, de Vries, van Pelt.
England (4-3-3): Hall; Bassett (Scott), Stoney, Johnson, Unitt; Exley, Chapman, Williams (McDougall); Handley (Potter, 78), Aluko (Barr, 60), Smith.
Subs not used: Chamberlain, Yankey, Maggs, McArthur.
Referee: H van Etten