Women's warm-up ends in stalemate
By Jamie Bradbury at the Riverside Stadium
Team GB Women 0-0 Sweden
Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough FC
4pm, Friday 20 July 2012
It was a stalemate at the Riverside as the Team GB and Sweden warm-up game for the London 2012 Women’s Football Competition ended in a goalless draw.
Great Britain, playing in their first official game with the Olympics less than a week away, couldn’t find a way past their fellow medal hopefuls in the first of two preparation games in Middlesbrough.
With the Men’s team facing Brazil a few hours later, it was Hope Powell’s side who got into their stride quicker that the visitors from Sweden. Ellen White looked to provide the game with its first goal, but neither of her early sightings made a breakthrough.
On 18 minutes, though, the Arsenal forward came agonisingly close to opening the scoring. After Eni Aluko had made a jinking run down the left channel and centred, the ball ricocheted off a Swedish leg and fell nicely for White. But her shot on the turn couldn’t quite sneak inside Hedvig Lindahl’s post.
Sweden, though, were soon involved and it was their strike pairing of Caroline Seger and Sofia Jakobsson who caused the problems for GB’s backline, led by skipper Casey Stoney.
And they had a guilt-edge chance shortly after through Seger, following a determined run by Jakobssen, twisting and turning inside the box to beat Stoney. She rolled across to her team mate, who had time to compose herself eight yards out, but she shot tamely wide with the goal gaping.
But the best of the opportunities were coming for Sweden, Kosovare Asllani had a difficult chance after cutting on from the right and fired towards the near post, but it was never troubling Karen Bardsley as she pushed away for a corner,
Two audacious efforts from the home side almost produced the game’s first goal. Steph Houghton, a north-east native, had a try from distance which had Lindahl back-peddling but the ball drifted over the bar. And an almost replica from Kelly Smith, again asked questions, but dropped the wrong side of the post.
The biggest threat in the first half, Jakobsson, then found herself in the clear bearing down on goal. Ifeoma Dieke came across to cover, as the Swede nipped the ball onto her right foot past the defender, striking goalwards. But again Bardsley was equal to it.
Smith finally had the ball in the net, though, right on the stroke of half-time as she glided into the area before chipping over the advancing keeper, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
Changes at the break meant the game never really sparked to life, but it was Sweden who looked the more likely to score, though they failed to really work replacement GB keeper Rachel Brown.
The impressive Jakobsson should have done better when Nilla Fischer fed her into the area, with the GB defence caught out. But Brown narrowed the angle well, forcing an effort from the forward that drifted well wide of goal.
Karen Carney was then involved in two key moments that could have broken the deadlock. First the Birmingham City winger played a neat pass through the Swedish defence for Rachel Yankey to run onto.
With just Lindahl to beat, she struck her effort from the edge of the area crisply past the keeper, but the ball struck the post. Before she could pounce on the re-bound, Sweden hooked clear.
Carney herself had a sight from range with time running out. It was great vision from the 24-year-old, but once again, it dropped over the bar ensuring the day’s first match at the Riverside ended goalless.
Karen Bardsley (Rachel Brown, 46), Alex Scott, Steph Houghton, Jill Scott, Casey Stoney (c) (Claire Rafferty), Ellen White (Rachel Yankey), Kelly Smith (Karen Carney, 62), Kim Little, Ifeoma Dieke (Sophie Bradley, 62), Anita Asante (Fara Williams, 46), Eni Aluko
Subs not used Rachel Williams, Emma Higgins, Dunia Susi, Jane Ross, Jess Clarke
Coach Hope Powell
Hedvig Lindahl, Linda Sembrant, Emma Berglund, Annica Svensson (Lina Nilsson, 46), Nilla Fischer (c) (Malin Levenstad, 90), Sara Thunebro, Lisa Dahlkvist (Johanna Almgren, 59), Kosavare Asllani (Antonia Goransson, 67), Sofia Jakobsson (Susanne Moberg, 82), Marie Hammarstrom, Caroline Seger
Subs not used Sofia Lundgren, Madelaine Edlund, Stina Segerstrom, Jassica Landstrom, Kristin Hammarstrom
Coach Thomas Dennerby
Referee Florence Guillemin (FRA)
Assistants Manuela Nicolosi and Elodie Coppola (FRA)
Fourth Official David Webb (ENG)