Harrop on target as England draw
Wednesday, 14 July, 2010
England held in opening game as Nigeria come from a goal down.
England's Women's U20 World Cup challenge began in Augsburg with a 1-1 draw against Nigeria on Wednesday afternoon.
After taking the lead just before half-time through Kerys Harrops close-range header, Mo Marley's team had to make do with a point in the opening game as Nigeria levelled on the hour-mark.
But it was a bright start to the competition for England, who qualified courtesy of their European Championship success at U19 level a year ago. They faced a tough test against a physical African side who they last faced in the previous World Cup in Chile two years earlier. That game also finished 1-1.
With the tournament in Germany this time, England are a lot nearer home started confidently cheered on by a few pockets of English fans in the crowd. But they were dealt a blow in just the third minute when Jess Holbrook was brought down by a strong challenge by Helen Ukaonu.
They carried on for a few minutes while the Everton player received treatment, but she was forced to go off - Lucy Staniforth coming in as her replacement.
This didn't stop Marley's side controlling the early possession as they sized up Nigeria looking for an opening.
Jade Moore fashioned their first attempt on goal with nine minutes gone, but her effort from range was turned around the post by the outstretched Alaba Jonathan.
Midway through the first half, Nigeria began to find a little rythym and enjoyed a good spell of possession creating a series of decent opportunities. First Esther Sunday wriggled free inside the area and fired in a fierce left-foot drive towards Becky Spencer's goal, but the Arsenal keeper was equal to it.
Desire Oparanozie then found herself one on one with Harrop, but the Birmingham City defender did enough to keep her away from goal and the stabbed shot was easy for Spencer. A minute later Glory Iroka struck wide from 20 yards.
Their best chance of the first half fell to Ebere Orji, though. She was played into space behind England's last defender Lucy Bronze, but once again Spencer made the save look easy.
England, meanwhile, continued to pass the ball around well, but were struggling to break down the strong Nigeria defence. However, when Moore split the defence with a superb through-ball into the path of Nobbs, the Sunderland midfielder looked odds on to score. Osinachi Ohale was not giving up though, and raced back to make a last-ditch challenge to clear from the feet of Nobbs as she prepared to pull the trigger.
On the stroke of half-time the Three Lions did go in front through defender Harrop. Staniforth's inswinging corner was misjudged by keeper Jonathan and Harrop's header from two yards made them pay.
Nigeria were back on terms on the hour mark when Orji broke away on the left and and carried the ball into the area. She squared for Oparanozie and, though her connection was far from great, it was enough to wrong-foot Spencer and trickle towards the goalline. The striker needed only to make sure as she smashed into the empty net.
Marley made two changes with Demi Stokes and Danielle Carter coming on for Issy Christiansen and captain Michelle Hinnigan as they looked to get back in front.
Both sides were able to fashion a couple more chances each, but it was the defences that came out on top as the game finished all-square.
England now face Mexico in their second Group C match that kicks off in Augsburg at 5pm (BST) on Saturday afternoon. The match will once again be live on British Eurosport and also online via FIFA.com.