Defender Jo Traynor grabbed an equaliser in added time to earn a valuable point
Defender Jo Traynor grabbed an equaliser in added time to earn a valuable point for England Women Under-19s in their European qualifying clash against Spain at Arlesey Town FC on Thursday evening.
Traynor, of Everton Ladies, headed in Jo Potter's corner much to the delight of the cheering fans to keep England in with a chance of winning the Group and securing automatic qualification for the July 2003 Finals.
Spain had gone ahead in the eighth minute through Adriana Martin - the midfielder who had netted a hat-trick in her first outing earlier in the week.
Although England went on to control much of the match, they found it hard to break down a resilient Spain and had goalkeeper Rachelle Houldsworth to thank for keeping the score down with two outstanding saves in the last quarter.
"We were the better side and we were more creative, even though there weren't many chances in the game," said Coach Mo Marley. "It was difficult to break them down because after they scored the goal, they just put players behind the ball. In the last ten minutes we decided that we had to go for it so we took a risk and pushed another player up front. We were fortunate enough to get our just rewards."
After two games, England sit in second place in this Second Group Stage of qualifying with four points, following a 3-0 win over Republic of Ireland on Tuesday evening. Spain lead the group on goals scored, having the same points and goal difference as England.
There is just one automatic qualifying spot open to the winners of the group, although second place may be good enough with three of the best runners-up from the four groups also going through.
England Under-19s now face Denmark in their final group game and three points is a must to help them win through to the UEFA U19 European Championship Finals. Marley's side lost twice to Denmark last season - both in qualifying and in the Finals, but both sides have had a big turnover in players moving on from this age group. Denmark have lost both their games so far - 4-1 to Spain on Tuesday and 1-0 at the hands of Republic of Ireland on Thursday evening.
Marley added: "If we perform the way we have in the past two games, I'm sure we will do well. Each game is more important than the last as you progress through tournaments and it's vital that we go into the game aiming for the three points to take us into the Finals."