A winning send off
Wednesday, 22 July, 2009
A late Jody Handley goal gives England victory in final Euro warm-up game.
Hope Powell’s England side will head into next month’s UEFA Women’s Euro 2009 buoyed by a 1-0 victory over Denmark, their final friendly fixture before they fly out to Finland to take on Europe’s elite.
A Jody Handley header three minutes from time sealed the win at a blustery County Ground on a night which saw both ‘keepers being called into action on a number of occasions.
The Three Lions pinned Denmark in their own half from the off, restricting the visitors to just one shot on goal in the opening 13 minutes. Fara Williams looked bright early on and the midfielder had England’s clearest opportunity just before the 20 minute mark. Lianne Sanderson fed Karen Carney who, in turn, found Williams inside the area but the latter’s shot flashed narrowly wide of Heidi Elgaard Johansen’s goal.
This shot momentarily sparked Denmark into action with Nadia Nadim narrowly heading over the bar and Katrine Veje registering a couple of long distance efforts. England stopper, Rachel Brown, injured herself in the warm-up and was replaced by Karen Bardsley who performed admirably, twice denying Veje.
However, Johansen had plenty of opportunities to prove her worth as well, being forced into a fine save from Williams on 30 minutes after she was set up by Sue Smith. With half time approaching Johansen also had to race off her line to beat Karen Carney to a Sanderson through ball ensuring the scores remained level at the break.
With the second half just four minutes old Veje and Bardsley continued their personal battle, but the England ‘keeper again came out on top. Bardsley would have no doubt been pleased, however, to see Veje’s number go up in the 73rd minute when she was replaced by Tina Rasmussen.
England soon got back into their stride, but were up against a determined Danish rearguard. It increasingly looked as though the game would end goalless especially after they thought they had finally beaten Johansen’s resistance on 71 minutes.
Alex Scott breezed past Hansen allowing her to pull the ball back to the on-rushing Williams. Williams’ effort was held up by Johansen’s arm but as it dribbled toward the net Smith dived in, only to see the ball cannon off the post and go behind for a goal kick.
However, with just three minutes remaining second-half substitute, Handley, provided the goal that England hope will spark a successful European campaign. From her left flank, Carney drilled a delicious cross into the box for Handley to glance into the net from just six yards out.