Hope Powell's young side have beaten Northern Ireland in their first match of their Algarve Cup.
England 4-0 Northern Ireland
The Algarve Cup
Wednesday 09 March 2005
Doncaster Rovers Belles midfielder Vicky Exley was on target twice as a much-changed England team conclusively overcame the Northern Irish in the opening Group C match of the Algarve Cup.
Only two players, the full backs Alex Scott and Rachel Unitt, who started in last month’s impressive 4-1 win against Italy, took part - but England nevertheless controlled the game throughout and could have won by a wider margin.
Despite that, however, National Coach Hope Powell was not totally satisfied. "It wasn’t the best performance," she said, "although the pitch was poor and that didn’t help.
"We made things hard for ourselves in the first half and the girls knew it, but we were better in the second half and the goals showed that."
Birmingham City’s teenage striker Karen Carney and Bristol City midfielder Rachel McArthur, with her first international goal, were the other England scorers.
Carney, who scored as substitute on her debut against Italy, made it two goals in two games with a brilliantly struck free-kick and also provided the crosses for two of the other goals.
"I’ve developed an instinct for scoring goals over the last couple of months," said Carney. "I wasn’t much of a goalscorer before, I was more of a creator – in fact I never scored a single goal for the England Under-19’s.
"But I do see it as part of my job to set up goals, so it was nice to do that a couple of times today as well as scoring and I thought in the end it was a good victory."
Carney opened the scoring in the 32nd minute, drilling in a free-kick from just inside the left touchline.
England had been on top from the early stages but, before Carney’s fine goal, had created only a couple of openings. But the chances then came thick and fast.
Carney went close with two good efforts before Everton’s Unitt had a 25 yard free-kick saved, then McArthur shot over an open goal after Carney’s 45th minute shot had been blocked.
The lead was finally increased 11 minutes into the second half, when Exley headed home after Unitt and Charlton Athletic striker Eni Aluko had helped on a Carney cross.
Three minutes later McArthur made amends for her earlier miss, forcing the ball over the line after Aluko’s shot had been saved by goalkeeper Christine Drain following another Carney cross.
Ireland produced their only moment of danger in the 85th minute, when substitute Rachel Furness hammered a 20 yard cross shot narrowly wide.
But Exley then gave the scoreline a true reflection of the game when she curled in a 25 yard free-kick to complete England’s fourth successive victory.
Powell’s team ended the first day of the tournament on top of Group C as Portugal lost 2-1 to Mexico in the group’s other match.
England’s next opponents will be Portugal, who will provide a much stiffer test than a Northern Irish team ranked 83rd in the world.
Powell will field a stronger side but, looking ahead to Friday’s match, said: "Portugal are a bit of a bogey team for us, especially over here.
"They’ve always seemed to cause us problems, so it should be a good test for us."
England (4-4-3): Bardsley (California State University); Scott (Birmingham City), Stoney (Charlton Athletic), Johnson (Everton), Unitt (Everton); McArthur (Bristol City), Exley (Doncaster Rovers Belles), Asante (Arsenal); Carney (Birmingham City), Aluko (Charlton Athletic), Smith (Leeds United).
Northern Ireland (4-5-1): Drain (Newtownabbey Strikers); McGovern (Fermanagh Mallards), Booth (Newtownabbey Strikers), Hutton (Arsenal), Roden (Newtownabbey Strikers); Patterson (Glentoran Belfast United), Turner (Glentoran Belfast United) (sub O’Neill (Northland Raiders) 43), Leyland (Garswood), Macklin (Glentoran Belfast United) (sub Furness (Chester le Street) 76), Bailie ((Glentoran Belfast United); McFadden (Moyola Ladies).