Powell laments first-half display
Saturday, 19 June, 2010
Head Coach satisfied with result but not pleased with performance.
Glenn Lavery in Aranda de Duero
Despite watching her side earn a point which puts them on the brink of a World Cup play-off place, the England Women’s Head Coach, Hope Powell, expressed her displeasure at a “shocking” first half performance against Spain on Saturday evening.
England were distinctly second best throughout the opening 45 minutes and went in at the break 1-0 down. However, a half-time dressing-down and a substitution in midfield seemed to galvanise the Three Lions and they began to impose themselves on the game after the interval. After 68 minutes, though, they were caught on the break and Sonia Bermudez doubled the hosts’ advantage with a confident left-foot finish, leaving England’s chances of a comeback looking slim.
But then they enjoyed a slice of luck; Rachel Unitt’s over-hit cross looping over Spanish goalkeeper Ainhoa Tirapu’s head and into the net to halve the deficit and it was left to skipper Faye White to level the scores in the dying minutes, prodding a bouncing ball home from inside the area.
This comeback now leaves England needing just one win from their remaining two qualifiers, against Turkey and Austria, to seal a World Cup play-off berth.
“If you can play as badly as we did in the first half and still come out with a result though, I’ll take it – but I’m not happy with the overall performance,” said Powell, after the game.
“In the first half we were shocking. The players would agree. You put yourself on the back foot when you perform like that in the first half and then you’ve got to claw your way out.
“The second half we came out with a bit more fight. I think [half-time substitute] Jill Scott made a massive difference. Ellen White chased absolutely everything down and it just gave us that little bit of impetus but the goals were lucky.
“I’m pleased with their application and attitude in the second half. In the first half it was not acceptable, not for a team of this calibre.
“In the second half we got to grips with [the game] better and we had more urgency and more fight. I think if I can take one positive out of it, if I look at the overall performance, I have to give them credit for coming back and for the will and the desire.
“We made it difficult for ourselves, but the positives; you play as bad as that and you get a point. You’ve got to be thankful.”
England are next in action on Thursday 29 July when they take on Turkey at Walsall’s Banks’s Stadium and a victory would leave them just two games away from a place in next summer’s World Cup Finals in Germany.