England 0-2 Canada: Hege Riise’s squad suffers their second defeat in five days, with the Team GB squad failing to impress again ahead of the Tokyo Olympics
- England suffered a 2-0 defeat on Tuesday-evening in their friendly against Canada
- Canada scored just two minutes into the game played at Stoke bet365 Stadium
- Evelyne Viens took advantage of a defensive foul from England for the first goal
- Nichelle Prince sealed Canada’s victory with a second goal in the 86th minute
The Olympic football tournament starts in a fraction of less than 100 days and this last chance to judge the England side, which will be the core of Team GB, suggests there is a mountain to climb to get any kind of medal in Tokyo.
The upside of a second defeat in five days was 22-year-old Georgia Stanway, whose mix of combative and creative at the back of English midfield suggests that one of the hotly contested midfield places for Tokyo must be hers.
Her young Manchester City teammate Lauren Hemp also needs to be on the plane and show the youth’s supreme confidence while impressing in the role of wide left winger, although the quality of her delivery wasn’t always right.
The England side of Hege Riise suffered their second loss in just five days against Canada
Canada scored their first just two minutes into the game played at Stoke bet365 Stadium
Nichelle Prince left) scored their second to end the game on Tuesday in the 86th minute
MATCH STATS AND PLAYER RATINGS
England (4-2-3-1): Telford 6 (Bardsley 46 5); Daly 6 (Bronze 64 6.5); Bright 6, Williamson 6, Stokes 4.5 (Greenwood 30 6); Nobbs 6.5, Stanway 8; Parris 5.5 (White 79 6), Kirby 5.5 (Toone 46 6.5), Hemp 7; England 5.5 (Kelly, 64 6)
But the struggle for supremacy in midfield, against a side two places down, meant England’s most naturally creative player, Fran Kirby, was isolated and Nikita Parris couldn’t bring any threat. No offensive player from England could hold a candle to Canada’s impressive fullback Ashley Lawrence.
It didn’t help England’s balance that they were a goal behind within three minutes of Demi Stokes, were only fit for half an hour of football, pushed a through ball from Janine Beckie in the path of Evelyne Viens, who scored. A bad mistake after Beckie bullied her in possession.
A Jordan Nobbs free kick hit the crossbar, but England struggled further to harass Stephanie Labbe in a first half that outshone Canada. The midfielder, who only carries her last name Quinn, made the most of Carly Telford, who turned her long-range effort around.
Manchester United’s Ella Toone added more urgency after arriving for Kirby and a late 30-yard burst on goal by Hemp brought an excellent recovering challenge from Vanessa Gilles. But Beth England didn’t attack the six-yard box close enough.
On the other hand, England remained vulnerable to the high ball and Canada closed things four minutes before time with another bad defensive foul. Substitute keeper Karen Bardsley took a heavy tap on Millie Bright and Nichelle Prince’s backpass to score a goal.
England is the sixth side of the world, but they are no longer the threat they once were
The positive of a second defeat in five days was 22-year-old Georgia Stanway
Her mix of combative and creative suggests that one of the spots for Tokyo must be hers
England director of women’s football Sue Campbell has said fitness and positional versatility will dictate roster for Japan, meaning Rachel Daly, who is currently on loan to West Ham, has made her own right back claim.
But overall it was a night that could only have provided encouragement to the Scottish offensive midfield trip vying for a place on the GB team: Erin Cuthbert, Kim Little and Caroline Weir.
“We have the ball a lot, but we need to be more resilient,” said stand-in manager Hege Risse, who will coach Team GB. “Defensively, we were well connected.” It was an extremely positive take on a bad night.
Phil Neville had his criticisms before leaving the manager position and the results were poor after the World Cup semi-final defeat against the US. But the hunger and spirit that were set aside at that tournament has disappeared, and the sixth place in the world is no longer the threat they were.
The best these islands can look at, based on this evidence, is a strong showing at the European championships at home, over a full year.