England Under-19s are in confident mood going into tonight's European Championsh
England Under-19s are in confident mood going into tonight's European Championship qualifying test against Spain. England secured a 3-0 win over Republic of Ireland in their opening game of the Second Group Stage qualifying and another three points at Arlesey FC at 6.00pm tonight will take them a step nearer the July 2003 Finals in Germany. The Spaniards had a shock 4-1 victory over Denmark on Tuesday and lead the Group on goals scored from England. Combative midfielder Adriana Martin netted a hat-trick in that first tie, so England captain Kelly McDougall will have to put in another mature performance to ensure she wins the midfield battle tonight.
Coach Mo Marley said: "This next game is the most important of the tournament for us because if we win this game, we're almost guaranteed to go through to the Finals - either as the group winner or one of the best runners-up.
"The girls came away from the Republic of Ireland game brimming with confidence and I'd like to think they can build on that performance. There is some fine tuning to do and the girls certainly could have scored more of their chances of Tuesday, but they have got their nerves out of their systems now. I'll be looking for them to raise their standards in this game and improve their performance, both individually and collectively."
England sailed through the First Qualification Group Stage in October with good wins against hosts Bulgaria, Lithuania and the Faroe Islands. They now face the challenge of winning this group stage, which assures only the winners of an automatic qualifying spot. The three best runners-up from the four groups will also join automatic qualifiers Germany, as hosts, in the Finals.
Last season England reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Women's U19 European Championships with their best ever performance in the annual tournament, before losing to eventual winners Germany by a single goal. That semi-final finish meant they qualified for the inaugural FIFA U19 World Championship, which was played in Canada in August; England reached the quarter-finals of the 12-team tournament, losing 2-6 to hosts Canada in front of a crowd of 24,000.
England kick-off their second group match at Arlesey Town FC at 6.00pm against Spain. Earlier in the day, with a 2.00pm kick-off, will be the Denmark versus Spain game. Entry for both games is £1 on the gate and the team is hoping that the people of Bedfordshire will come to cheer them on to victory.
England will then face their final game on Saturday at 3.00pm against Denmark, to whom they lost twice in the European Championship qualifying and Finals last season.
England team (from): Rachelle Houldsworth - Sheffield Wednesday, Catherine Beaver - Manchester United, Shelly Cox - Leeds United, Beth Bailey - Birmingham City, Jo Traynor - Everton, Faye Cardin - Birmingham City, Anita Asante, Sheuneen Ta - both Arsenal, Michelle Hickmott - Birmingham City, Kelly McDougall - Everton, Lisa Burrows - Arsenal, Alex Scott - Arsenal, Katy Ward, Josanne Potter, Eniola Aluko - all Birmingham City, Claire Bridgett - Sunderland, Darel Poole - Colchester United, Laura Froggatt - Portsmouth, Emma Thomas - Arsenal
REMAINING MATCH SCHEDULE
Thursday 17th April 2003
Denmark v Republic of Ireland at 2.00pm
Spain v England at 6.00pm
Both matches at Arlesey Town FC
Ticket details: £1 adults & concessions - in advance via phone/fax - 01462 734512- or on the gate
Saturday 19th April 2003
*Republic of Ireland v Spain at 3.00pm
at Northampton Town FC
Denmark v England at 3.00pm
at Barton Rovers FC
England ticket details: £1 adults & concessions - in advance via phone/fax - 01582 882398 - or on the gate
*Please note the Rep. Ireland v Spain venue has been switched from Wooton Blue Cross FC