Women's U23s battle gamely but are narrowly beaten by USA.
England U23s 0-1 USA
Four Nation Tournament
3pm (GMT), Friday 26 February 2010
La Manga, Spain
Ravaged by illness, and eventually forced to finish the game with ten players, the England Women's U23 side slipped to a narrow 1-0 defeat to USA in the final match of the Four Nation Tournament.
England began the game with just one fit substitute and a substitute 'keeper who had only partially recovered from illness. Marie Hourihan had been flown in overnight and arrived at the camp just three hours before kick-off to start in goal.
However, a draw in the game between Norway and Germany left everything still to play for; the winner of this game would win the Tournament.
England started brightly and created a chance in the first minute. Steph Houghton was found in space at the far post by a Dannii Bird cross but her shot was blocked.
A counter-attacking move from the Americans soon after had their striker running into open ground towards our goal. She rounded the 'keeper and slid the ball home, but Mel Sutcliffe made it back to block on the line.
Midway through the half, USA started to apply continued pressure. This time one of their forwards had time to chest and volley inside our area, but blasted her shot over the bar.
After 27 minutes, England suffered what they could ill afford; an injury to Claire Rafferty. With Chelsea Weston on, this left only the partially fit goalkeeper, Ashley Baker, on the bench.
Towards the end of the first half, a long ball forward from USA almost brought about the opening goal. Hourihan raced from her goal but her clearance hit the on-rushing forward and bounced narrowly wide of the post.
England started the second half well with Dannii Bird being afforded an opportunity to shoot. She tested the 'keeper, but it was fairly comfortable in the end.
On 50 minutes England had another scare as Mel Sutcliffe went down holding her ankle, England had no outfield players left on the bench, but after some treatment, Sutcliffe managed to play on. Moments later, Remi Allen went down after a nasty clash and, unable to carry on, England continued the game with ten players.
Hourihan then marvellously pushed the ball over the bar after England failed to clear their lines, but on 79 minutes USA took the lead.
A hopeful ball forward allowed the USA striker to get between the Three Lions' defence and she was able to flick the ball past Hourihan.
After playing so well for so long, the numerical disadvantage and three games in five days had begun to take its toll, but for the last few minutes England decided to go for it and threw another forward upfront.
In the dying moments, England were pushing for the equaliser and the ten players were giving everything. They finish the game on top and had done really well to compete, given the circumstances.
USA won the tournament, but England can be really proud of their performance.England
1 Marie Hourihan, 2 Melanie Sutcliffe, 3 Claire Rafferty (12 Chelsea Weston, 27), 4 Sophie Bradley, 5 Fern Whelan (C), 6 Kerys Harrop, 7 Steph Houghton, 8 Remi Allen, 9 Ellen White, 10 Brooke Chaplen, 11 Dannii Bird.Substitute not used
13 Ashley Baker