A bizarre stoppage time goal condemned England to defeat in their first game of the new season
Bristol Rovers FC
Thursday 19th August 2004,
A bizarre stoppage time goal condemned England to defeat in their first game of the new season as they began their build-up to the 2005 European Championships finals, to be played in this country next June.
Russia substitute Natalia Barbachina, who had already equalised Fara Williams’ opener, raced through to score after an attempted pass by Rachel Yankey had bounced off the referee to set up the opening.
It was a devastating way to lose the game for England, but National Coach Hope Powell had no complaints after seeing what was a largely disappointing display by her team.
“We just didn’t perform,” said Powell. “We didn’t get out of our blocks in the first half - we started very slowly and Russia could have scored a goal inside the first 30 seconds.
“It wasn’t good and at half-time the players realised it. We showed more urgency in the second half and got a good goal, but then Russia got stronger towards the end and credit to them for their performance.
“We are better than that, though. We had a couple of key players missing and we’re right at the start of our season, but no excuses – we should be beating teams like Russia but in the end I would have been happy with a draw from that game.”
As the coach pointed out, her team had started slowly and survived a couple of early scares. Goalkeeper Leanne Hall had to make a double stop from striker Larissa Savina in the opening minute then Savina volleyed wide four minutes later.
England’s only clear cut scoring opportunity of the first half arrived in the 28th minute, when Jody Handley crossed for fellow winger Yankey to drive in a 20 yard effort which Svetlana Petko saved under her bar.
The Russians looked the more composed side in the opening period and might have taken the lead 11 minutes before the interval, but after a mix-up between Hall and central defender Casey Stoney striker Olga Kremleva shot wide from eight yards.
Barbachina wasted a much better chance four minutes into the second period, the striker blasting the ball high over the bar from 10 yards after racing clear of the defence.
Russia’s profligacy was punished in the 67th minute, when a good spell of England pressure culminated in substitute Sue Smith crossing for Williams to brilliantly send an overhead kick into the far corner of the net from 10 yards.
But the lead lasted only three minutes as Russia, breaking quickly following a Williams free-kick, levelled the scores through a close range header by Barbachina from substitute Olga Letyushova’s deep cross.
England pushed for a winner in the closing stages, when the game was at its most open, but Russia had the final word when Barbachina netted her second goal with what was the last kick of the match.
England (4-5-1): Hall (Fulham); Champ (Arsenal), Stoney (Charlton Athletic), Phillip (Arsenal), Unitt (Everton);), Handley (Everton) (sub Smith (Leeds United) 63), McDougall (Everton) (sub Exley (Doncaster Rovers Belles) 63), Chapman (Charlton Athletic), Williams (Everton), Yankey (Birmingham City); Walker (Charlton Athletic) (sub Moore (Fløya) HT).
Substitutes: Wayne (Bristol Rovers), McArthur (Bristol City), Pealling (Arsenal), Maggs (Birmingham City), Asante (University of Miami), Barr (Birmingham City), Johnson (Everton),
Russia (4-4-2): Petko (Pigalev HT); Karaseva, Sergaeva (Skotnikova 79), Kolomiets, Zaytseva; Voskressenskaya, Egorova, Fomina (Grigorieva HT), Rabakh (Komarova HT); Savina (Lefyushova HT), Kremleva (Barbachina HT).
Referee: Ms H. McDermott (Republic of Ireland)