April 2, 2020, 5:50


England Women 1-1 Australia Women: Fran Kirby strikes again in friendly draw

England Women 1-1 Australia Women: Fran Kirby strikes again in friendly draw

Fran Kirby was on target once again for England Women as they drew 1-1 with Australia Women in an international friendly on Tuesday.

After scoring the winning goal against Brazil in a 1-0 win on Saturday, she found the net again at Craven Cottage, sweeping home in the 21st minute.

England will feel they should have gone further in front after Lucy Staniforth had a goal incorrectly disallowed for offside in the first period, while the hosts saw two clear penalty appeals waved away in each half.

1:42

Neville says he is disappointed in decisions made by the match official in their 1-1 draw with Australia.

Australia got their equaliser with six minutes of normal time to be played as Clare Polkinghorne nodded home from a corner. Nonetheless, the Lionesses are now seven games unbeaten under Phil Neville.

England began well and had chances in the opening 15 minutes. Some good goalkeeping from Mackenzie Arnold saw her come off her line to put off Beth Mead – who sent her shot wide of the post – in the fifth minute before Mead once again tried her luck not long after, but her strike from the top right corner just went past the far post.

It was a mistake from Matildas ‘keeper Arnold that allowed England to take the lead in the 21st minute. She played a poor ball out from the back which landed at the feet of the waiting Mead. She then played the ball into Kirby, who turned Ellie Carpenter before slotting home into an almost open net.

Player ratings

England Women: Earps (7), Bronze (7), Greenwood (7), Nobbs (7), Houghton (7), Kirby (8), Duggan (7), McManus (7), Walsh (7), Staniforth (7), Mead (8).

Subs used: Parris (6), Daly (6), Williams (5),

Australia Women: Arnold (7), Polkinghorne (7), Logarzo (6), Catley (6), Kellond-Knight (7), Foord (5), De Vanna (6), Butt (6), Sayer (6), Carpenter (6), Ibini-Isei (6).

Subs used: Gielnik (4), Crummer (4), Fowler (5), Chidiac (n/a).

Player of the match: Fran Kirby.

With 10 minutes of the half to play, England almost added another. Steph Houghton hammered a header towards goal from Alex Greenwood’s corner, but forced a superb, leaping save from Arnold. Mead was waiting at the back post to try and smuggle home the rebound, but the goalkeeper got her body down to smother and it did not make it all the way over the line.

The Lionesses did have the ball in the back of the net in the 44th minute, but Staniforth had her strike disallowed. Kirby was played through into the area before playing the ball across for the Birmingham City midfielder. She swept the ball home into the back of the net before wheeling away to celebrate her first England goal, but the offside flag was raised despite her appearing to be onside and the goal was ruled out.

Team news

Phil Neville made five changes to his starting XI after beating Brazil 1-0 on Saturday. Carly Telford, Millie Bright, Isobel Christiansen, Nikita Parris and Rachel Daly dropped to the bench while Mary Earps, Abbie McManus, Keira Walsh, Lucy Staniforth and Beth Mead came into the side.

But the drama did not stop there. Mead was fouled in the area on the stroke of half-time – brought down by Caitlin Foord – but the referee waved away the claims to a chorus of boos from the home crowd.

The second half was a quieter affair in terms of chances, but England were once again denied a spot kick in the 88th minute in what looked to be another clear claim. Nikita Parris raced into the area and it was Foord once again who committed the foul. Despite looking like she would give it, the referee was dissuaded by her assistant and the penalty was not given, much to Parris’ dismay.

Australia got themselves level in the 84th minute, but not before testing Mary Earps as Carpenter thundered an effort towards goal, but the England goalkeeper stretched to tip the ball over the crossbar for a corner. But it proved to be England’s downfall as Polkinghorne nodded home from Elise Kellond-Knight’s delivery to see the Matildas leave London with a draw.

Player of the match – Fran Kirby

In the same week, she was nominated for the Ballon d’Or, Kirby showed why she is among the best female players in the world with not only a wonderful goal – her second in as many days – but some superb forward runs and great link-up play with Beth Mead.

What’s next?

England will next be in action on Sunday, November 11 when they host Sweden Women in an international friendly. Australia will host Chile Women on Saturday, November 10 and Tuesday, November 12.

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