WC2013: Canada v England

England stepped into the fixture against Canada with one win and one loss under their belts. The day before had seen England take on Wales and come out victorious, however facing Canada would be a totally different affair. Canada were on a high after recording their first World Cup win against Australia the night before and they were back to show they meant business in front of a home crowd.

England started with a few changes to their set up, knowing that draw controls would be vital in this game, Ash Smith and Asha Niven moved up into the defence wing positions. This tactic worked as England came up with the first possession of the game, Sophie Brett collecting the ball and advancing into attack. Brett would also be the first to test Canadian goalie Katie Donohoe, who would make a number of saves over the course of the game.

Laura Merrifield for England would kick off the scoring, with a bounce shot from a free position with just under 2 minutes played however the Canadians managed to level the score within two minutes, Abbey Friend also converting a free position shot.

Canada were starting to get their attack going, a high feed was picked out of the air by Dana Dobbie who managed to squeeze the ball past England’s Cat Gaunt to put Canada in the lead (2-1). Both teams were having looks at goal, with England not being able to get past Donohoe and Canada hitting the post. The next goal came from a patient clear from Donohoe, a couple of passes later, Canada’s Brook Eubanks found herself in front of goal, surrounded by England players, but again the ball managed to sneak into the net (3-1).

The Canadian’s would score two more goals before England got another on the board, Emily Gray found Brett who finished off a period of settled attack by England (5-2). Merrifield, who was having another big game for England, scored her second goal, driving from behind goal and dumping the ball over the Canadian goalie. (5-3). The Canadians were now playing a zone defence but were called up for some physical play which earned them a yellow card, but it would be Canada that finished off the half with a great solo run from Lydia Sutton who ran through the midfield to score Canada sixth goal, putting them 6-3 up at the half.

Canada got the scoring going again in the second half, with Dobbie finding Crysti Foote before Megan Takacs beat her defender and shot from a small angle to put Canada 8-3 up. England battled on but could not stop two further goals from Canada, including a superb example of Canada’s stick skills, Foote taking a high ball one handed before taking on Sally Keogh one on one and finishing off a highlight play.

Team England called a time out and this re-lighted the fire, Merrifield using all her height to take an Alex Bruce feed and finishing low (10-4). Canada were fortunate to get a deflected goal and also had an opportunity to increase the lead when England were reduced to eleven players, Ash Smith receiving a yellow card. However England played great defence and came out with the ball. England never stopped working and this paid off when Kirsten Lafferty pressured the Canadian keeper forcing a loose pass which was intercepted by Merrifield, who dished it straight to Lafferty to place it in the Canadian goal (11-5). Merrifield led the England attack, getting her third of the game after sprinting from the England half through four defenders to power the ball into the net (11-6).

Canada looked for more goals but Keogh and the England defence were equal to the Canadian shots. The home team knowing they had a good lead, ran down the last couple of minutes playing possession till the final whistle, leaving the final 11-6 in favour of Canada

The England team were very much in this game from start to finish but were not able to convert the chances they had against the Canadians. The home team with two wins now face Wales before coming up against an in-form USA team.