No confetti, party poppers and certainly no cheese and pineapple hedgehog. This was supposed to be the Lionesses ‘grand adieu’, but you’d be forgiven for seeing them off to France with little more than a fleeting glance and can of pop.
There was no party atmosphere whatsoever in England’s final Road to France series match against New Zealand. For those looking hard enough, there is some mitigation in the fact Phil Neville rotated heavily once again. There has been no end to the experimenting with different set-ups and personnel.
Time will tell whether or not the decision not to allow some synergy to develop between certain players will cost them their World Cup hopes. It could come back to bite Neville jr on the backside. This was a below par performance from a side ranked 3rd in the world against one ranked 19th.
Carly Telford – Didn’t have much to do all afternoon which may have been a reason for her blunder in the New Zealand goal. She spilled a routine save and couldn’t count on her defenders to come to the rescue. Has done naff all to convince Phil Neville that she’s the best option between the sticks. 5/10
Lucy Bronze – Made a series of pivotal interventions and without the Champions League winner the Lionesses might have been on the wrong end of an even grander humbling. She was constantly switched on and showed world class reactions, making a vital block. Her attributes and experience will be of paramount importance to the side throughout the World Cup. 8/10
Steph Houghton – Good at playing the simple horizontal passes but you wince slightly whenever the distance is stretched. She chaperoned the back line well on the odd occasion they were called into action. 6/10
Abbie McManus – Gave a decent account of herself but in truth didn’t have much to do beyond maintaining possession by knocking it between herself, Houghton and Greenwood. 6/10
Alex Greenwood – Failed to properly deal with a long ball in the build-up to the goal. Going forward, she struggled to make an impact but wasn’t given much to aim at with Duggan well-guarded by the Ferns defence. 5/10
Lucy Staniforth – Had a busy afternoon but was too lax on the ball and was made to pay for it, getting caught in possession more than once. Narrowly missed the target from a wide free-kick but could well be on set-piece duty in France. 6/10
Keira Walsh – Struggled to give England a solid footing in midfield. The omens don’t look good for the Man City star. Both games she has started in this warm-up series – against Canada and New Zealand, the Lionesses have lost, while the two she was on the bench for – Denmark and Spain, they have won. A mere coincidence? Maybe. 5/10
Fran Kirby – A thorn in the Ferns’ side all afternoon. Her best attribute is holding the ball up and bringing others into the game. She was quick to play in Taylor for the best chance of the game but the forward couldn’t make it count. Her hunger never waned and she will be key to England’s World Cup success. 8/10
Toni Duggan – Linked up with Kirby well down the left but struggled to make her mark on the game. Was hooked before even an hour had gone and the change unquestionably improved the side. 6/10
Nikita Parris – Looked razor sharp on the ball and used her top-notch vision to spot the penetrating runs her team mates were making and then had the killer instincts to play the pass. 7/10
Jodie Taylor – Fluffed an early 1-on-1 chance as she dithered too long. When she finally pulled the trigger the keeper was right on top of her. Shortly after, she rounded Nayler and before pulling it back but unfortunately no team mate was on the same wavelength. 5/10
Karen Carney – (for Duggan) – Made an immediate impact after being sent on to shake things up. Her introduction had the desired effect and she was at the heart of England’s sweetest moves. Had her side’s best chance when she stung the keepers’ palms with a half volley. 8/10
Beth Mead – Ran her socks off after coming with 20 minutes to play but was frozen out by the Ferns’ well-marshalled defence. 6/10
Ellen White – Came on for Taylor with 15 minutes to play but failed to give her side a new dimension. 5/10
Jill Scott – Thrown on by Neville just before the 70-minute mark and her height troubled the Ferns but ultimately, she was shepherded just fine. 6/10
Georgia Stanway – Only made a brief two-minute cameo at the end and wasn’t up to the pace of the game. 5/10
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