Northern Ireland Women V Austria

NORTHERN IRELAND WOMEN LOSE OUT TO ENGLAND IN WORLD CUP QUALIFIER Northern Ireland’s senior women’s team battled bravely against England in a FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 qualifier at Wembley on Saturday.

Words: Nigel Tilson

At the start of the second half Hemp fired a shot wide before Lauren Wade made an excellent run down the left wing and fired a low cross into the box which was touched by Greenwood – and that was enough to put off the onrushing Caragh Hamilton. She was inches from making contact with the ball . McFadden was immense alongside Nelson, Rebecca McKenna, Burrows and Demi Vance in the back line. And Burns was outstanding between the sticks. Just after the hour mark Burns made a fantastic save with her feet from a low Hemp strike but moments later England took the lead. Beth Mead, who had just come on as a substitute, produced a lovely finish on 64 minutes with a perfectly executed overhead kick as the ball bobbled around the box. Hemp produced a lovely chip over the keeper which was turned in by substitute England on the line to make it 2-0. Mead got her second three minutes later – in the 75th minute - with an emphatic finish at the back post and she completed her hat-trick when she ran on to a Burns clearance and hammered the ball home. Northern Ireland: Jackie Burns, Rebecca McKenna, Demi Vance, Sarah McFadden, Julie Nelson, Marissa Callaghan (captain) , Chloe McCarron, Caragh Hamilton, Kelsie Burrows, Rachel Furness, Lauren Wade. Substitutes: (used) Kirsty McGuinness, Ciara Watling, Louise McDaniel , Kerry Beattie, Emily Wilson; (unused) Becky Flaherty (GK) , Maddy Harvey-Clifford (GK) , Rachel McLaren, Nadene Caldwell , Laura Rafferty, Joely Andrews.

They kept the top seeds in European Qualifying Group D at bay for more than an hour but a hat-trick from substitute Beth Mead and a goal from another substitute, Bethany England, gave the hosts a deserved 4-0 win. Northern Ireland showed plenty of courage throughout , however England’s superior fitness told in the end. Just over 23,000 fans, including a 450-strong contingent of the Green and White Army, watched England secure the victory. Kelsie Burrows, making her first competitive start for Northern Ireland, made a good interception early on to settle the nerves, while Julie Nelson, equalling Pat Jennings’ record of 119 caps for Northern Ireland, and Sarah McFadden stood firm at the heart of the defence. On 14 minutes Kenny Shiels’ side had a let-off when Lauren Hemp darted into the box and unleashed a powerful shot which crashed off the underside of the bar. Ellen White, England captain Leah Williamson and Ella Toone all had efforts on goal before Burrows snuffed out a Rachel Daly raid. Moments later Burns produced a great double save, firstly to keep out a header from Williamson and then to palm the ball away as White was set to pounce. On 30 minutes Alex Greenwood let fly from distance and her shot came crashing back off the bar.



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