Lionesses need to be more clinical, says Mark Sampson

Tuesday 12 Apr 2016
Mark Sampson on the touchline in Bosnia

Mark Sampson has urged his England side to be more clinical in front of goal after Karen Carney’s late strike rescued a late win over minnows Bosnia.

The Lionesses dominated possession in the EURO 2017 qualifier in Zenica and, according to UEFA statistics, had 21 attempts on goal.

Bosnia & Herzegovina 0-1 England

UEFA Women's EURO 2017
Qualifying Group 7
Tuesday 12 April
Trening Centar Zenica

But they were grateful for Carney’s intervention, the only goal of the game, which sealed three points and extended their unbeaten start in Group 7 to four matches.

Sampson said: “We created lots of chances and there was very little action in our own half but we couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net as much as our play probably deserved.

“The [Bosnia] goalkeeper has played well but we need to be better in that part of the pitch.

“We are creating chances. Sometimes you put those chances away, sometimes you don’t. If you look at The FA WSL so far this season there hasn’t been a massive goal fest from open play.

“As a nation we need to find a way to open teams up better and put the ball in the back of the net more consistently – but I’m quite relaxed about it.

“We got the goal in the end which got us three points and that was the most important thing because we are still in the position we need to be.”

The match was a carbon copy of the last encounter between the sides in Bristol last November, when England were on top for the majority of the encounter and had to find a way past Bosnia’s blanket defence – at times, Samira Huren’s side had all 11 players in their own half and five players across the backline.

And, with his side again indebted to a late goal, Sampson assessed: “It can be very difficult. Every time we got the ball in the box there were nine opposition jerseys in there to clear.

“It was difficult to find the spaces we needed to execute the finish, but we had enough opportunities. We just didn’t have the final product.

“Our goal came from an accurate cross, some good movement and a good finish so I’m pleased with that aspect.

“There was a lot of positives in our play in terms of us limiting their attacks. I’m not sure [Lionesses goalkeeper Karen Bardsley] touched the ball with her hands.

“It’s disappointing because we had a lot of attack-minded players on the pitch. I was confident we would put the ball in the back of the net more often but we didn’t.

“It is frustrating because you are not going to play in a game like that in a European Championship [finals]. We’ve got to keep working on things that will serve us well in the big games.”


Carney is mobbed after her late winner in Zenica

Sampson believes the win leaves his side in a healthy position in Group 7. They have won three and drawn one of their four matches, leaving them in second place, a point behind Belgium but with a game in hand.

Next up is a double-header against Serbia in June and two wins would virtually seal a place at next year’s finals.

Sampson said: “If we hadn’t have got the three points there would have been a lot of pressure on us, a lot of questions asked – but we got three points. Would we have been better off had we won 3-0? Of course we would, but it’s about winning matches.

“We’ll go away now, reflect and get ourselves ready for a couple of tough qualifiers against Serbia.

“It was only last month that we drew with, in my opinion, the best team in the world (France, who England faced at the SheBelieves Cup).

“We deserved to beat an excellent French team and came very close to beating Germany and the States, so if we look at the bigger picture, we are absolutely going in the right direction.

“There are just some areas we need to tidy up on, i.e. we need to put the ball in the back of the net.”

By Glenn Lavery in Zenica