'We've won the first half'
Monday, 13 September, 2010
Hope Powell pleased with England's first-leg win over Switzerland.
By Glenn Lavery
Hope Powell articulated her delight after watching England defeat a talented young Switzerland side 2-0 in the first leg of their World Cup play-off.
A goal apiece for Fara Williams and England's new leading goalscorer Kelly Smith at the end of the first half secured the victory and has handed the Three Lions a healthy advantage to take into Thursday's return leg in Wohlen.
"I'm really pleased; two goals [scored] and none conceded," Powell said.
"[Switzerland] were always going to try and score away from home and credit to them, I thought they did very well," she continued. "They are a fast progressing team with a lot of ability. We had to work hard to get the result."
It was a thoroughly professional performance from Powell's charges and a two-goal lead is the least they deserve from a game they dominated for large spells, though it took until the 44th minute to break the deadlock.
After Marisa Brunner had denied both Jill Scott and Smith in quick succesion, Williams was on-hand to fire England ahead from 15 yards.
And two minutes later the lead was doubled courtesy of Smith's 41st international goal, which saw her surpass Karen Walker's tally. The forward curled home from just inside the box after being teed up by Williams.
"It's great for her," Powell said of Smith's achievement. "She's got a great scoring record and I'm sure she's very pleased. It wasn't her best performance, but it isn't just about Kelly, it was a team performance and more importantly we won the game."
England must now prepare for the second leg and the Head Coach has asked her players to remain focused.
"We've won the first half," she said. "We're in a good position, we just have to make sure we prepare [for the second leg] in the next few days to tidy up a couple of things and basically get ready to go again.
"It was tough [but after] we scored the two goals we seemed to relax. [The players] know what to expect [from the second leg]. They recognise it will be a tough game. Percentage-wise we probably had the edge but it's dangerous because one goal can make such a difference. We have to prepare diligently and stay really focused. It's not over yet. Please God we get the result."
This victory also extended England's 100 per cent record at Shrewsbury Town FC and Powell was grateful for the support her team received at Greenhous Meadow Stadium.
"Four thousand-odd people is great and I'd like to say a big thank you to the people that came to the game. It really helps the girls to play better; it spurs them on."