England fall to France in Final
Saturday, 05 June, 2010
Three Lions miss out on retaining European title in Macedonia.
England Women’s U19s missed out on the chance to retain their European Championship crown on Saturday when they lost 2-1 to France in the Final in Skopje.
Mo Marley’s side, who claimed the title in Belarus a year ago, suffered defeat to the French who came from behind to edge a closely-contested match at the National Arena.
And it was two defensive errors that ultimately cost England the opportunity to become the first England team for 26 years to retain a major honour, with French duo Rose Lavaud and Pauline Crammer the beneficiaries.
In the searing heat of Skopje, England started well and had two early chances to take the lead when Jordan Nobbs and Toni Duggan both had shots on goal, but while Nobbs’ went over the bar, Duggan’s close-range effort was saved by Laetitia Philippe.
Gemma Bonner, who’d earlier made a fine challenge to deny Marina Makanza a chance to go one on one with Spencer, also came close to putting England in front. Jess Holbrook’s deep corner was met by the head of the Leeds Carnegie defender but the ball went into the side-netting.
However, midway through the first half the Three Lions took a deserved lead when Jess Holbrook’s snap-shot beat the French stopper. Duggan broke into the box and laid the ball off to Holbrook who was under pressure from three defenders.
The Everton midfielder turned well, losing one marker before drilling low inside the post. But the well-earned advantage didn’t last long.
And it came from a mistake at the back, allowing Lavaud to break on the left-hand channel with a free run at Spencer’s goal. Before Gemma Bonner could get back to snuff out the chance, Levaud had composed herself and tucked away into the corner of the net.
England were still enjoying much of the play, but were unable to break down a tough French resistance, and they were limited to the occasional shot from distance.
And the game took another twist ten minutes into the second half, when Crammer capitalised on a miss-placed pass from Becky Spencer. The Arsenal keeper had been largely untroubled throughout, and when a pass-back came to her, she looked to begin a move by passing to Bonner, but the ball went straight to Crammer who has a simple job of tapping in the empty net.
France immediately made changes, taking a much more defensive approach, as they tried to protect their advantage. And it was they who could have edged further in front when first Mazanka fired wide from a good position 12 yards out, and then Lavaud lost out to Spencer in another one on one. The keeper making amends for her earlier slip with a fine stop.
Duggan looked the most likely to get England back into the game, but a left-foot shot on the spin and a half-volley from the edge of the area were both dealt with by Philippe as time ran out to see the French lift the trophy.