A 3-0 victory sees England one step from the European Championship once more.
England 3-0 Croatia
UEFA 2006 Women’s U19 European Championship
Qualifying Round One
The New Bucks Head, Telford
29 September 2005
A hard earned but well deserved second victory in three days saw England clinch a place in Qualifying Round Two for next year’s UEFA European Women's U19 Championship.
In front of a record crowd for a Women’s U19 international in England, goals by captain Jill Scott, Fern Whelan and Lianne Sanderson took Mo Marley’s team back to the top of the four-nation first round group.
Scotland had earlier taken over the group leadership through a 5-0 win against the Faroe Islands and both countries now have maximum points from their two games, guaranteeing each team a place in the next round.
With England well ahead of the Scots on goal difference, however, a draw when the two nations meet at Burton on Saturday will see Marley’s side top the group.
Not that the England U19 coach will be looking to settle for a draw when the auld enemies clash. “We’ll go out and try to win, as we would any other game,” said Marley.
“But it will be tough – England-Scotland games are always difficult and they will want to upset us, but we know what we’ll be up against and we’ll make sure our players are prepared.”
England may not dominate the Scots as they did the Croatians, who failed to produce a single shot at goal throughout the 90 minutes.
But, facing a resolute and often packed defence, England were unable to create clear-cut scoring chances as easily as they had in Tuesday’s 11-0 thumping of the Faroes.
A couple of early openings went begging though, before Sunderland midfielder Scott netted her third goal of the tournament with a close range shot following a 25th minute free-kick curled in by her club colleague Steph Houghton.
Everton central defender Whelan, another of Tuesday’s scorers, had a 54th minute ‘goal’ disallowed but made up for that disappointment when she increased the lead with a glancing header from an 85th minute corner by her Toffees team mate Michelle Evans.
The best moment of the night was saved for the fourth minute of stoppage time, when Arsenal’s Sanderson sent a superb 20 yard shot-on-the-turn into the top corner of the net.
“It was a great way to finish the game,” said Marley. “We might have had more goals, but Croatia defended very deep, they were very physical and hard to break down and it was a real test of our girls’ qualities.
“It was tough, but Scotland will be even tougher. We’ll have to fine-tune our individual performances and pattern of play - but if we do that the result should look after itself.”
England (4-2-3-1): Danielle Hill (Everton); Jayne Eadie (Everton), Fern Whelan (Everton), Kylie Davies (Fulham), Michelle Evans (Everton); Bonnie Horwood (Fulham), Jill Scott (Sunderland) (sub Heather Scheuber (Birmingham City) 64); Stephanie Houghton (Sunderland) (sub Dunia Susi (Fulham) 57), Lianne Sanderson (Arsenal), Rebecca Hall (Wolves) (sub Jessica Clarke (Leeds United) 77); Gemma Davison (Arsenal).
Goals: Scott 25, Whelan 85, Sanderson 90