Everton midfielder Fara Williams scored from the spot to send England to the top of qualifying group five.
Holland 0-1 England
2007 FIFA Women's World Cup, Qualifying Group 5
FC Zwolle, Holland
17 November 2005
Everton midfielder Fara Williams hit her third penalty in as many matches to send England three points clear at the top of their qualifying group for the 2007 Women’s World Cup finals in China.
A Williams spot-kick opened the scoring in the first qualifier, a 4-1 win in Austria, and she scored another as England coasted to an overwhelming 13-0 victory in Hungary.
But her cool 55th minute effort at FC Zwolle’s Oosterenkstadion was the most vital of the three as Hope Powell’s team squeezed to victory in the toughest of their qualifiers to date.
National Coach Powell had made three changes to the team that defeated Hungary last month, captain Faye White returning to the centre of defence while midfielder Vicky Exley and winger Karen Carney replaced the injured Katie Chapman and Alex Scott respectively.
The re-jigged side started well and should have taken the lead after just seven minutes, but from left winger Rachel Yankey’s neat pull back striker Eni Aluko sent a ten-yard shot well wide of the far post.
Four corners were won in quick succession as England built up the pressure, but in the 22nd minute they were almost caught on the break when Dutch winger Manon Melis chased a long ball out of defence to drag a cross-cum-shot past the far post.
As the first half wore on England found it increasingly difficult to create openings against a tight-marking defence.
And as the home side came more into the game, goalkeeper Rachel Brown had to make her first save when diving to keep out central defender Liesbeth Migchelsen’s 15 yards shot following a 34th minute corner by former Bristol Academy midfielder Annemieke Griffioen.
Four minutes later England were dealt a blow when captain White was cautioned for a foul on striker Nicole Delies, the Arsenal central defender’s second booking of the qualifying campaign meaning she will be unavailable for the next match against group favourites France.
The visitors regained control shortly before the interval, however, and after striker Kelly Smith had curled a 20-yard effort just wide, left-back Rachel Unitt had a first-half stoppage time header saved by goalkeeper Marleen Wissink from right-back Casey Stoney’s deep free-kick.
The breakthrough finally arrived 10 minutes after half-time, when Williams recorded her 13th international goal with a penalty that followed a foul on substitute Amanda Barr by central defender Marloes de Boer.
The lead was almost doubled six minutes later, but from substitute Jo Potter’s corner Exley saw her goal-bound header well saved just under the bar by Wissink.
As Holland hit back Brown had to make a 65th minute stop from de Boer’s header from another dangerous Griffioen corner.
The keeper was then beaten by midfielder Dionne Demarteau’s 85th minute 20-yard free-kick but, luckily for England, the ball flashed inches wide of the near post.
That was a scare, but there were no more to follow as England went into Qualifying Group 5’s winter break sitting proudly on top of the table.
Holland: Marleen Wissink; Dyanne Bito, Marloes de Boer, Liesbeth Migchelsen, Petra Hogewoning; Gilanne Louwaars, Dionne Demarteau, Annemiek Griffioen; Manon Melis, Nicole Delies (Sylvia Smit 69), Shirley Smith (Kirsten van de Ven).
Subs not used: Esther Scheenaard, Anouk Hoogendijk, Felicienne Minaar, loes Geurts, Jessica Torny.
England: Rachel Brown (Everton); Casey Stoney (Charlton), Faye White (Arsenal), Mary Phillip (Arsenal), Rachel Unitt (Everton); Karen Carney (Birmingham City) (Jo Potter (Charlton Athletic) 59), Vicky Exley (Doncaster Rovers Belles) (Anita Asante (Arsenal) 81), Fara Williams (Everton), Rachel Yankey (Arsenal); Kelly Smith (Arsenal); Eniola Aluko (Charlton Athletic) (Amanda Barr (Charlton Athletic) 46).
Subs not used: Siobhan Chamberlain (Bristol Academy), Jody Handley (Everton), Kelly McDougall (Everton), Lindsay Johnson (Everton).
Referee: Christine Frai (Germany)