WC2013: England v Australia

Team England faced an Australia team that had a similar record, with just the one win against wales and losses to USA and Canada. Both teams were also down influential attacking players, England’s Katy Bennett rolling her ankle and Australia’s Jen Adams out with a torn ACL. The winner of this game would finish third overall in the group and miss a semi-final against whoever would top the group so it was all to play for.

Australia set out their stall early with a goal just after a minute of play, Marlee Paton getting the attention of two defenders then dumping the ball off to Stacey Morlang-Sullivan to finish in front of goal (1-0). England took control of the next possession but after some good attacking build up play the final ball was turned over and Australia went on the counter. Cat Gaunt in goal for England denied the aussies scoring further from a free position shot, before Sophie Brett isolated her defender, beat her and went on to score England’s opener (1-1).

Both teams were getting looks at goal, but Gaunt saved a low shot from Sarah Mollison while Sue McSolvin at the other end keeping Lucy Lynch out. The next goal would come half way through the first half for Australia, with Morlang-Sullivan beating Gaunt with a bounce shot (2-1). Sarah Taylor would level the scores for England with her second attempt at a free position after a period of sustained attacking possession from England (2-2). With ten minutes to go in the half, the Australians scored the first of a three goal run to take them into the half 7-2 up, one of the goals coming from precision passing from Australia to find the free player while England playing short due to Annie Hillier receiving a yellow card.

England needed a good second half and Laura Merrifield stepped up to lead the way with a solo effort, picking up the ball from her own fan and beating the aussie players all the way to the other goal before placing the ball past McSolvin (7-3). The teams traded a goal each before Merrifield was shown a yellow card for a soft foul meaning England would play short for two minutes, but the team held out the Aussie attack with the help of Sally Keogh in goal, making some crucial stops.

The Aussies were now marking Merrifield out and trying to nullify her as a threat, however England would score a further three goals from Rachel Kircheimer, Lucy Lynch and Keely Watt in reply to three goals from Australia. Karen Morton brought the scoring to a close, netting with less than five second left in the game to leave the second half tied but with Australia sitting on a healthy lead from the first half ran out winners with a 11-6 score.

Although this loss leaves England in fourth position in the group, they had longer periods of attacking possession in this game but just couldn’t find the final ball to unlock the Aussie defence, while the Australians converted more of their opportunities. England will now have a day off as they wait to find out who they will meet in the quarter-finals from the match between Wales and Austria.