Lianne Sanderson's brace was not enough to prevent a new-look England side from losing 3-2 against Sweden.
England 2-3 Sweden
Under-19 Women’s International
Damson Park, Solihull
20 May 2004
Two goals by Arsenal striker Lianne Sanderson were not enough to prevent a new-look England side from slipping to defeat against older and far more experienced opponents at Solihull Borough’s Damson Park.
For what was the final Under-19 game of the season, National Coach Hope Powell had left out the players who will be over-age next year in order to assess candidates for places in her team’s 2005 Under-19 European Championships campaign.
Not so Powell’s opposite number Anna Signeul, whose team was much bigger and stronger than the home side and always had the physical edge. England competed well, however, and but for some poor defending would not have lost.
But the coach was satisfied with her team’s overall display, which saw them fight back from a 3-0 half-time deficit, and she found some encouraging signs at the end of a season which for once had not seen England competing at the Euro finals.
Powell said: "Our failure to qualify for the European Championships finals was obviously a disappointment, especially as we’d reached the last four in 2002 and 2003, but we had a much younger and less experienced squad this season.
"It’s been a big learning curve for the girls and they’ve done pretty well. I’m pleased with the quality of the players we’ve got coming through from the younger age groups and from this match against Sweden it’s a case of the Under-19 team starting again.
"A lot of the girls in this squad will be able to play at Under-19 level for three years and in that time they should build into a very solid outfit. They certainly showed their potentialagainst Sweden despite losing the match.
"Naivety at the back cost us all three of the goals we conceded, but hopefully lessons will be learned and all credit to the players for the way they came back in the second half. In the end I thought we were unlucky not to get something out of the game."
England started and finished the match well but paid the price for sloppy defending in the latter stages of the first half, notably when gift-wrapping the 24th minute opening goal for striker Madelaine Edlund.
Further goals for the visitors could have followed before their second and third strikes, left back Karin Palm scoring in the 35th minute and striker Lisa Dahlkvist netting goal number three two minutes later.
The England players looked shell-shocked as they trooped off at the interval, but their response was a spirited second half display that all but earned them what in the end would have been a warranted draw.
Sanderson reduced the arrears from a 62nd minute penalty then, seven minutes from time, the 16-year-old striker added her second with a 15 yard shot from a headed pass by Tranmere Rovers midfielder Heather Scheuber.
With five minutes remaining substitute Karen Boyle had a goalbound effort saved by goalkeeper Veronika Svensson, who also denied left back Michelle Evans deep into stoppage time as England searched in vain for an equaliser.
England Goals: Sanderson 62 (pen), 83
Sweden Goals: Edlund 24, Palm 35, Dahlkvist 37