England battle hard against Bosnia to end 2015 on a high

Sunday 29 Nov 2015
Jill Scott (No 14) celebrates her winner against Bosnia & Herzegovina

England Women rounded off a memorable year with a hard-fought 1-0 defeat of Bosnia & Herzegovina at a blustery Ashton Gate.

Substitute Jill Scott scored the winner in what was the Lionesses' first home match since they finished third at the World Cup in the summer.

Jordan Nobbs hit the bar early on and created a number of other chances as Mark Sampson’s side ensured Bosnia goalkeeper Almina Hodzic was the busiest player on the pitch.

England 1-0 Bosnia & Herzegovina

UEFA Women's Euro 2017
Group 7 qualifier
Sunday 29 November 2015
Ashton Gate, Bristol City FC

Bosnia are ranked 72nd in the world but they made life as difficult as possible for their hosts by setting themselves up in two banks of five.

Samira Hurem’s side showed no appetite to attack whatsoever and were instead content with frustrating their more illustrious opponents.

And they were successful at doing so until Scott leapt from the bench to win the game.

The result, which came just three days after a notable 0-0 draw with European champions Germany, leaves England handily placed in Group 7 with six points from two matches, following the 8-0 win over Estonia in September. The next qualifier is against Belgium in April.

In total control from the off and having to contend with 11 Bosnian shirts behind the ball, England came close to taking the lead on 10 minutes.

Nobbs smacked the crossbar with a 20-yard pile driver and Hodzic punched the ball away from Isobel Christiansen before the Manchester City schemer could head home from close range.

Nobbs was in the thick of the action once more as the hosts created their next opportunity. The Arsenal midfielder pulled a low ball across goal but Eniola Aluko could only prod narrowly wide.

The almost gale-force like conditions didn’t make it easy for either side but the best player on the pitch in the first half was Hodzic, who caught or punched away every high ball or set piece that came her way.

And such was England’s dominance that their own goalkeeper, Karen Bardsley, eventually ended up operating as an auxiliary sweeper rather than patrolling her 18-yard box.

However, Sampson’s charges were unable to break the deadlock in a trying opening 45 minutes.

Jess Clarke in action at Ashton Gate

Jess Clarke in action at Ashton Gate

It was the same pattern in the second half with the Lionesses camped in the Bosnia half and constantly probing for the elusive opening. For the majority of the half, Bardsley was the only player in the England half.

World Cup stars Scott and Toni Duggan were called from the bench and within minutes, England had the breakthrough the 13,000-strong crowd had been craving.

Aluko clipped a ball into the box from the left and Scott was on hand to nod past the unfortunate Hodzic, who will be disappointed not to have kept it out.

Nobbs tried to put a gloss on the result and forced Hodzic to punch clear again.

Even at 1-0 down, Bosnia refused to attack and England were left to see out the victory with consummate ease.

And there was still time for Jemma Rose to come on for Steph Houghton for her England debut.

In winning bronze at Canada 2015, Sampson's side attracted a legion of new fans.

Steph Houghton, Fara Williams, Lucy Bronze and co. are now household names, mainly down to their exploits over the summer.

This particular pride of Lionesses have put England Women on the map like no other team before them and they head into 2016 with a renewed sense of vigour.

Watch highlights of the game in Bristol 

England (4-2-3-1): 1 Karen Bardsley (Manchester City); 2 Amy Turner (Notts County), 5 Steph Houghton (C; Manchester City), 6 Casey Stoney (Arsenal), 3 Demi Stokes (Manchester City); 4 Laura Bassett (Notts County), 8 Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal); 11 Jess Clarke (Notts County), 10 Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City), 7 Gemma Davison (Chelsea); 9 Eniola Aluko (Chelsea).

Substitutes: 14 Jill Scott (Manchester City) for Clarke 55, 17 Toni Duggan (Manchester City) for Christiansen 60, 12 Jemma Rose (Arsenal) for Houghton 84

Substitutes not used: 13 Carly Telford (Notts County), 15 Ellen White (Notts County), 16 Fran Kirby (Chelsea), 22 Fara Williams (Liverpool).

Goals: Scott 69

Bookings: Turner

Head coach: Mark Sampson

Bosnia & Herzegovina: 12 Almina Hodzic, 2 Nikolina Dijakovic, 3 Antonela Radeljic, 4 Amira Spahic (C), 5 Melisa Hasanbegovic, 6 Marija Aleksic, 7 Andela Seslija, 8 Aida Hadzic, 9 Milena Nikolic, 10 Alisa Spahic, 11 Lidija Kulis

Substitutes: 14 Amna Lihovic for Dijakovic 80, 13 Zerina Piskic for Spahic 90, 15 Tatjana Stanic for Radeljic

Substitutes not used: 1 Envera Hasanbegovic, 16 Azra Numanovic, 17 Alma Kameric, 18 Svjetlana Crnjak

Bookings: Dijakovic

Head coach: Samira Hurem

Referee: Florence Guillemin

Attendance: 13,040

By Glenn Lavery at Ashton Gate