Tag Archives: Fran Kirby

England Vs Northern Ireland Preview: Lionesses Aiming for First Win Under Riise’s Reign

England are in action for the first time in almost a year tomorrow in their first game under new boss Hege Riise, as they take on Northern Ireland in a friendly at St George’s Park. 

It is the first of a double header of games for Riise and her squad in the upcoming months, as they attempt to build some momentum ahead of the rescheduled European Championships, which will take place on home soil next year. 

They face Canada on 13th April in their second fixture announced by the FA, with many players hoping to impress in these two fixtures and make the Team GB squad for this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo 

Tomorrow’s game will be the first meeting between the two nations since 2008, when the Lionesses triumphed 2-0 during a European Championship qualifier at Mourneview Park.

Much has changed since then, especially for the Green and White Army, who have enjoyed an upturn in form under former Derry City boss Kenny Shiels, winning their last four Euro 2022 qualifying games to secure their passage to the two legged play off games in April. 

The exhibition game is as beneficial to Northern Ireland as it is England, as it forms part of their preparation for the crunch two legged tie. It is their sole fixture before the historic games, which will take place in less than two months time.  

England, who are ranked sixth in the world and 43 places above their opponents, have not played since they were defeated 1-0 by Spain in March of last year. 

Riise has stuck with the majority of the squad who played in what turned out to be Phil Neville’s last game in charge before taking up a role as Inter Miami manager, naming ten Manchester City players in her twenty-one strong panel.

One of the stalwarts included is on loan Everton midfielder Jill Scott, who is in line to make her 150th appearances for the Lionesses at St George’s Park tomorrow. 

Demi Stokes is injured along Chelsea duo Millie Bright and Fran Kirby who both withdrew from the squad at the weekend and were replaced by Manchester United defender Millie Turner and Arsenal winger Beth Mead, who had narrowly missed out in the initial squad announcement. 

Nikita Parris is another notable absentee. The Lyon forward is unable to join up with the team due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. Toni Duggan, who now features for Athletico Madrid, is another who misses out on selection. 

Young Bristol City forward Ebony Salmon, who only turned 20 in January, receives her first call up along with other uncapped players such as Birmingham goalkeeper Hannah Hampton, Everton shot stopper Sandy MacIver, Arsenal defender Lotte Wubben-Moy and Manchester United forward Ella Toone.

Man City’s Ellie Roebuck seems the most likely of England’s inexperienced goalkeepers to get the nod to start in goal. 

Captain Steph Houghton will be partnered by Arsenal centre back Leah Williamson, whilst FIFA Best Winner Lucy Bronze and Rachel Daly will line up at left and right back respectively. 

Jordan Nobbs and Jill Scott should feature in the centre of the park and will be flanked by Chloe Kelly and Georgia Stanway on the wings. Bethany England and Ellen White should start up front. 

Riise gave her inaugural press conference ahead of the game, expressing her satisfaction with how the training camp before the game has gone so far:

“We are delighted to have a fixture against Northern Ireland, to prepare ourselves for this week and I have been very impressed by the spirit and determination I have witnessed from our players in camp so far.”

Kenny Shiels is missing a number of influential members of his team and so again has opted to name quite a youthful squad, with seven changes from their last outing against Faroe Islands in December. 

The stand out call up is for 16 year-old defender Ella Haughey. The Lisburn Rangers full back had been training with the senior side on a trail basis before receiving the call that she would feature in the squad for the game. 

The teenager this week cited Lucy Bronze as one of her idols growing up and told the BBC that:

“It’s hard to put into words how much the call up means to me”.

She joins Crusaders goalkeeper Maddy Harvey-Clifford as the only other uncapped member of the squad, coming in for Forfar Farmington goalkeeper Lauren Perry. 

There are recalls for Linfield duo Casey Howe and Rebecca McKenna, as well as Birmingham’s Rebecca Halloway and former Hearts midfielder Louise McDaniel. 

Demi Vance is out with a knee injury whilst sisters Caitlin and Kirsty McGuiness are unavailable for selection.

In a huge boost for Shiels, star striker Simone Magill has recovered from her injury and is included in the travelling squad. She is part of the experienced spine which Northern Ireland have, which includes the likes of centre backs Ashley Hutton and Julie Nelson as well as midfield trio Rachel Furness, Sarah McFadden and Marissa Callaghan. 

Given how well their 4-3-3 formation served them in the thrashing of the Faroe Islands, Shiels is likely to stick with his tried and tested methods. 

Burns is a nailed on starter in goal and will have experienced duo Hutton and Nelson at centre back, with Halloway and Caldwell completing the back four.

In front of them, Northern Ireland will likely line up with a midfield three of McFadden McClaron and Furness, the latter two being some of the Green and White Army’s more creative players. 

Magill should slot back into the side and lead the line with Wade and Wilson lining up on the flanks.

Ahead of the mouthwatering encounter Shiels was realistic in his assessment of the task ahead of Northern Ireland, but was keen to stress that whatever the result, it will be a great learning curve for his side:

“When we leave England after the match I will know straight away what we learnt from the game,

“The result will not be indicative of what we are looking to achieve. As long as the girls get better collectively then we will get better as a team, and it is inevitable that results will follow.”

The game kicks off at 12:30pm tomorrow and is available on the BBC iPlayer and website. 

FA WSL round up: City come out on top in the Derby

Manchester City came out on top in the Manchester Derby on Friday night. Lucy Bronze and Laruen Hemp putting City two up, before a stunning chip from Caroline Weir made it 3-0.

Reading drew 1-1 with Everton after Rachel Rowe give the home side a 1-0 lead at half time. Denmark international Nicoline Sorensen got Everton’s equaliser after 77 minutes.

Elsewhere, in a preview to the Conti Cup Final Chelsea run riot and put five past Bristol City. Fran Kirby (2), Pernille Harder, Sam Kerr and Beth England all on the scoresheet for The Blues.

Finally Aston Villa’s home match against Arsenal was called off due to a frozen pitch.

Manchester City 3-0 Manchester United

On a bitterly cold night at The Academy Stadium Manchester United looked to stay above their City rivals.

In form Leah Galton was played in by Jackie Groenen, but Galton’s ball across the six yard box was cleared by Alex Greenwood.

The deadlock was broken in the 23rd minute by Lucy Bronze. United failed to clear Chole Kelly’s corner and the ball fell to Bronze who smashed the ball into the far corner.

Georgia Stanway’s cross almost caught out United Keeper Mary Earps going just over the bar and onto the roof of the net.

Hayley Ladd fired a shot wide as United looked for an equaliser. Kelly not clearing from a United free kick, the loose ball finding Ladd and shooting on the turn put the ball wide.

Ellen White forced Earps into a decent save with her overhead kick attempt. Kelly’s cross finding White who initial shot was blocked, White went for the spectacular with the rebound.

United were dealt another blow just before the break as Leah Galton was forced off. In an off the ball incident, the United player was helped from the field looking in some discomfort.

Earps was again called into action saving from White. Laruen Hemps low cross from the left finding White inside the box. The forward’s first time effort was pushed away by Earps.

United tried to get back into the game, Christen Press attempting a lob over a advancing Ellie Roebuck but she put her effort over.

Press saw another shot blocked by a combination of Lucy Bronze and Steph Houghton.

City weathered the pressure from united and extended their lead on 71 minutes. Chole Kelly firing a shot which Earps pushed away but the ball found Hemp who’s left footed shot flicked off Amy Turner and into the goal.

Caroline Weir wrapped up the Derby win for City with a potential goal of the season. Picking up a loose ball Weir’s left footed chip went over the stretching Earps.

Caroline Weir scores stunning goal in Manchester Derby.

City pick up the win and move into second in the WSL table five points off leaders Chelsea with a game in hand.

Reading 1-1 Everton

Reading started brightly with Amalie Eikeland forcing a save from Everton keeper Korpela. Eikeland again could only find the gloves of Korpela with a long range shot straight at the keeper.

Eikeland was causing Everton problems as she hit the post after Rowe’s free kick. Natasha Harding then headed over form the rebound.

Readings pressure told after 34 minutes as Rachel Rowe put the home side ahead. Sam Carter was unable to put in from Lilly Woodham’s cross but the ball fell to Rowe who had on open goal to aim at.

Everton started to pressure the home side in the second half. With out troubling the goal Everton had several half chances but did get the equaliser. Nicoline Sorensen heading in after 77 minutes. Wold’s cross to the far post was met by Sorensen who headed in to level the game.

Neither side could find a second goal with both sides having some half chance efforts.

Bristol City 0-5 Chelsea

Chelsea put five past Conti Cup Final opponents Bristol City in a game that they dominated. The Blues had 24 attempts at goal with 9 on target.

Fran Kirby gave them a 14 minute lead before Harder made it two after 36 minutes. Kirby got her second to make it three nil before the break.

Goals from Sam Kerr and Beth England in the second half made it five for the Champions.

Chelsea’s lead at the top is five points, while Bristol sit bottom – two points behind West Ham United.

FA WSL round up: the blues bounce back to defeat london rivals

Chelsea bounced back from their loss to Brighton at the weekend with a thumping 3-0 win over Arsenal. Pernille Harder with two goals and a late third from Fran Kirby giving Emma Hayes’ side a three point lead at the top.

Elsewhere, meanwhile, Brighton carried on the momentum from their victory over Chelsea by beating West Ham by a goal to nil.

The second City derby due to be played was called off due to a frozen pitch, as was Tottenham match with Bristol City.

Chelsea 3 – 0 Arsenal

The perfect response from the champions after a shock defeat to Brighton, as they returned to winning ways.

Chelsea pressed high up the pitch early on and and Fran Kirby was able to win the ball in the corner. Linking up with Harder and Ji, Kirby had a shot on the turn but it went straight at Arsenal keeper Williams.

Chelsea high press put the Arsenal defence under pressure that Arsenal struggled to deal with. Wubben-Moy poor pass left Williams in trouble and her clearance fell to Melanie Leupolz who’s long range effort went well wide of the goal, as Williams scrambled to get back.

Arsenal had a great chance to take the lead but Miedema’s shot was well saved by Berger. Danielle van de Donk won the ball from Millie Bright and slipped in Miedema who worked her way into the box. Miedema’s left footed shot was met by the outstretched leg of Berger.

Fran Kirby went even closer to opening the deadlock with her strike being well saved down low by Williams. Getting the ball on the right Kirby cut inside and played a 1-2 with Leupolz and hit a first time effort towards the bottom corner. Williams down low to her right got a strong hand on the ball to turn it away.

The opening came three minutes after the break from Harder. Ji winning the ball and Kirby giving it to Harder who shot from outside the box. The ball bouncing just in front of the keeper and in to the bottom corner, for Harder’s fifth WSL goal of the season.

Kirby and Harder combined for Chelsea’s second. Kirby’s cut back inside the box was struck first time by Harder in to roof of the net.

Katie McCabe’s deflected effort almost pulled one back for Arsenal, but Berger at stretch was able to push the ball away from goal.

Kirby added a third on 90 minutes, coolly sliding the ball past Williams to make it 3-0.

Emma Hayes spoke after the game saying:

“Everybody knows what the standards are at Chelsea and it’s not always easy to live with.

“The pressure is relentless, the expectation is relentless, but it’s a place for the best to thrive, and only the best, with the highest standards, keep this dream machine flying.

“Those are my demands and I won’t compromise on that. To see the response from the team shows where the team wants to go.”

Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro:

“I think if we analyse this game too much it will drive us crazy because there wasn’t a lot wrong with that other than they scored three goals and we scored none.

“It’s very hard to keep analysing these games because we play a bit more pragmatic and then they hurt us another way – they are a very, very good team with some powerful players and it’s the quality of them that has unlocked us today.

“Mathematically there is still a lot to play for us, but sometimes realistically you have to set yourself different targets. We have a Champions League spot to play for and two games in hand to help get us there.”

Brighton 1 – 0 West Ham United

Brighton got back to back wins for the first time this season with a 1-0 win over West Ham. Aileen Whelan’s first half goal helping Brighton victory.

Brighton started brightly, playing with confidence but were unable to create a real threat to Mackenzie Arnold’s goal.

West Ham could have gone ahead as Laura Vetterlein’s header was cleared on the line by Maya Le Tissier.

Arnold had to be at her best as Nora Heroum’s looping effort headed towards the top corner. The West Ham keeper quick to react and tip over.

Brighton got the lead thanks to Whelan’s outstretched leg. Megan Connolly’s corner wasn’t cleared and flicked to Whelan who’s outstretched right leg sent the ball back across goal and into the net.

West Ham failed to create any real opportunities in the second half and Brighton had chances to make it two, but the game ended 1-0

Brighton manager Hope Powell after the game said:

“Everyone did their jobs, which meant they didn’t score and we held out for all three points.

“We’ve done a lot of work on being hard to beat and it gives us the best chance of winning – if we stop conceding goals, then we’re in it.

“The players looked a bit tired towards the end of the match after Sunday’s game but they have really responded well, which takes off some of the pressure in that bottom half of the table.”

West Ham manager Olli Harder:

“Our performance was characterised by individuals’ inability to positively contribute in key moments offensively and defensively.

“The application and effort was there again so it’s difficult to criticise, but it’s quality in key moments that determines games and again we had the opportunity to show that quality but we didn’t do that.

“The missed chances and opportunities each game are fine margins and details. We’re still in this position and we’ve got 10 games to put ourselves in a better position than we’re in at the moment.”

The WSL continues over the weekend with the Manchester derby on Friday. Kick off at 19:00 and Live on BT Sport. Three matches will take place on Sunday with Aston Villa v Arsenal, Reading v Everton and Bristol City v Chelsea.

FA WSL Round Up: Chelsea go top of the table

With just one WSL game last weekend there was a full fixture list this past weekend.

Reigning Champions Chelsea moved to the top of the WSL table after a 2-1 win over previous leaders Manchester United. The teams are level on points but Chelsea have a better goal difference, plus a game in hand.

Third placed Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw by Reading. Manchester City hammered Aston Villa 7-0 while Everton put four past bottom side Bristol City. Tottenham beat West Ham by 1-0 and Birmingham City drew at home to Brighton.

Chelsea 2 v 1 Manchester United

Chelsea began brightly with Sam Kerr going past two United defenders to take a shot forcing Mary Earps into an early save. Just two minutes later and Fran Kirby’s though ball finds Kerr in the box but she shot wide. Kerr had another chance but her first time shot went wide again. Three really good chances for The Blues who should have been leading.

United’s first chance came from Christen Press, Kirsty Hanson’s cross defected to Press who hit the ball on the half volley but put it wide.

Chelsea were soon back on the front foot. Working into the box on the right, Fran Kirby had another chance but Earps stuck a leg for a Chelsea corner.

Erin Cuthbert swung in the corner which was met by Pernille Harder who headed towards goal. Amy Turner headed the ball out but it found its to Kirby who shot was blocked but United could not clear and Harder turned the ball into the net. 1-0 Chelsea 30′.

United brought Lauren James on for Press after 55 minutes and it took the 19 year old just six minutes to make an impact. After playing a lovely 1-2 with Ella Tonne, James took sight of goal and curled her shot past the outstretched arms of Berger. 1-1 61′

The goal woke the Chelsea team up as Kerr had another chance saved by Earps. After So-Yun Ji’s shot defected into her path Kerr tried the shot but Earps saved comfortably.

Chelsea retook the lead on 65 minutes as Berger’s long ball went the length of the pitch. The United defenders were not alive to the ball over the top but Chelsea’s in form player Fran Kirby was. Taking a couple of touches Kirby calmly put the ball past the advancing Earps. 2-1 Chelsea 61′.

Lauren James had another chance to level. Ella Tonne playing James behind the chelsea backline, but the striker but her shot wide of the target.

A thrilling game between the top two ends with a win for the Champions, who now go top of the league.

Reading 1 v 1 Arsenal

Arsenal missed the chance to close the gap to second place after drawing at Reading. Reading took the lead after 5 minutes as Lauren Bruton turned in Emma Mitchells free kick. Arsenal were level five minutes before halftime. Jill Roord’s header was saved by Grace Moloney, but Vivianne Miedema was first to react to tap in for her 12th goal of the season.

Reading reamian in sixth place while Arsenal are still third three points of Chelsea and Manchester United.

West Ham United 0 v 1 Tottenham Hotspur

West Ham began this game brightly but failed to really trouble Spur’s keeper Rebecca Spencer. Tottenham grew into the game and took the lead on 35 minutes.

Rosella Ayane putting temping cross across the six yard box, Alanna Kennedy was crowded out by West Ham’s defenders and unable to get the ball. Tottenham’s Gemma Davison picked up the loose ball and found Lucy Quinn who fired home.

West Ham pushed for an equalizer in the second half but couldn’t find the net. The win is Tottenham’s third in a row and they sit in 7th place. West Ham are 10th.

Everton 4 v 0 Bristol City

After five games without a win Everton picked up all three points after putting four past Bristol City.

Taking the lead after 4 minutes, Nicoline Sorensen’s cross was turned into the roof of the net by Izzy Christiansen. Sorensen and Christiansen almost combined for the second but City keeper haland made a good save. Hayley Raso’s cross looked to be the keepers but she fumbled the ball and it was turned in by Simone Magill. Everton lead 2-0 at half time.

Christiansen made it three after squeezing the ball from a tight angle into the far corner after being played in by Lucy Graham. Megan Finnigan round off a good win with a fourth heading in at the near post from Christiansen’s corner.

Everon stay in fifth place on 17 points while Bristol City are still looking for a first win.

Manchester City 7 v 0 Aston Villa

Not really a contest at The Academy Stadium as Manchester City ran riot and put 7 past Aston Villa. Lauren Hemp got the first sliding in at the far post from Chole Kelly’s cross. Jill Scott made it two after 17 minutes before Stanway scored the third on 31 minutes. Kelly and Hemp combined again to make it four nil, before Kemp’s cross was put into the goal by Villa’s Natalie Haigh. Ellen White made six before half time.

Chloe Kelly got City’s seventh in the second half. City are fourth five points off the leaders Chelsea and Manchester United. Villa are 11th four points ahead of Bristol City.

Birmingham City 0 v 0 Brighton

Brighton controlled this match but rarely caused Birmingham keeper Hannah Hampton. Despite having seven shots on target the Birmingham keeper was never in danger of conceding. Birmingham had only one shot on target in the entire game and Brighton will feel hard done by with just a point.

Brighton are in 9th place while Birmingham are 8th.

Birmingham City will host Everton at 19:00 on Wednesday 20th January. Aston Villa are home to Reading on Saturday 23rd January 12:00. Two 12:00 kick offs on Sunday 24th January as Arsenal host West Ham and Manchester United host Birmingham City. Brighton will play Manchester City at 14:00 and Bristol City will host leaders Chelsea.

FA WSL Round UP: covid tears apart Fixture List

In what must be the strangest weekend in WSL history only one fixture was played over the weekend. Five of the six scheduled games were postponed as a result of positive Covid-19 tests and injuries. A rise in positive cases and required self-isolation sparking the debate as to whether football should continue during the pandemic.

The one fixture that did go ahead saw Chelsea move into second place after thumping Reading five goals to nil. Fran Kirby hit four goals in a dominating win for The Blues.

Manchester City were due to host West Ham on Saturday 9th, but after positive tests at the club and other mitigating circumstances they were unable to field the required 14 players.

Aston Villa who were hosting Arsenal also saw there game postponed as Arsenal were also unable to field a side after a number of their players were self isolating. Three Arsenal players one of which being Katie McCabe made trips to Dubai over the winter break and have faced criticism for making the trip. Arsenal have investigated the matter and believe the travel was in line with Government restrictions.

Birmingham City’s trip to Tottenham was called off due to injuries within the City squad. As it was not related to Covid the game will not be rescheduled. The league made the following statement:

Birmingham contacted the FA to notify the association they would not be able to fulfil the fixture away at Tottenham due to not having enough players fit and available to play, as a result of a number of injuries.

“A request for postponement was made by the club under the competition’s epidemic rule, but was not able to be granted as this is an injury-related issue.

“The outcome of the fixture will be determined by an independent tribunal.

“The FA will provide an update on that decision in due course, and wishes the players concerned a full and speedy recovery.”

After the decision Birmingham released the following:

As a professional football club we have a duty of care to our players. Their welfare is at the centre of this decision and it is a conclusion we never wanted to reach.

“However, it has been well documented that Carla Ward’s side has been the victim of an unfortunate and extraordinary run of injuries and despite our best efforts to field a team this weekend, it would be irresponsible to do so.

“The club maintain the position that we would be putting our players at risk of further injury and jeopardise their wellbeing in pursuit of fixture fulfilment. This is not a concession we are willing to make.

“An application for a postponement was submitted to the FA but this request was denied.

“We are aware of the ramifications of this decision but contest that we are also bound by an obligation to preserve our players health and safety, above all else.”

Brighton, who were due to travel to play Bristol City, had a second positive case in Friday’s round of testing meaning they had seven players isolating:

“We thank both The FA and Bristol City for their assistance and understanding in dealing with this matter” said a statement from Brighton.

Manchester United manager Casey Stoney has apologised for allowing members of her squad to go Dubai despite their being no outbreak within the United squad. Their match at Everton was called off due to Covid concerns within the Everton camp. Five Everton players contracted coronavirus over the Christmas break.

“I said before Christmas that I will always take my players’ well-being into consideration and I granted [them] permission to go home and see their families to have a break,”

Stoney said:

“Everything we allowed them to do was within government guidelines, but I have to be honest and on reflection it was a poor error in judgment from me. I am sincerely sorry for that. I’m human and I make mistakes, I take responsibility for it.”

Reading v Chelsea

There was one game that went ahead as Chelsea blow Reading away at the Majewski Stadium. Fran Kirby hit a first half hat trick and got a fourth in the second half before sub Ji So-Yun made it five.

The win moves Chelsea into second just three points behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand and a superior goal difference. Chelsea have put the pressure on United as the sides are due to met in the next round of games.

Chelsea took the lead after 16 minutes, a hopeful ball up the middle was flicked on by Sam Kerr. Kirby got behind the Reading defenders and rounded keeper Grace Moloney to slot home. Chelsea almost doubled the lead as Kirby found a pocket of space just outside the box, curling in a right football shot she struck the post.

It was 2-0 after 23 minutes as Reading defender Emma Mitchell gifted Kirby the ball half way into the Reading half. The invitation to charge at goal was all Kirby needed as she put the ball past the advancing keeper’s right, with her left foot. Mitchell attempted to get back in front of Kirby but the Chelsea player was not to be denied.

Kirby competed the perfect hat trick in first half injury time. From a free kick sent out to the by-line, Sam Kerr turned it back towards the area where it was met be the head of Fran Kirby who guided the ball into the top corner.

Half time: Reading 0 v 3 Chelsea

Eight minutes into the second half and Kirby had her and Chelsea’s fourth. From a corner floated towards the near post, Kirby outjumped Angharad James to loop the ball into the far corner.

Ji So-Yun rounded off a superb Chelsea performance with a fifth goal. Hannah Blundell’s cross found Ji in the box, taking the ball down on her right foot and calmly waiting for the ball to bounce and sit up for a volley into the far corner on her left foot.

Chelsea in fine form as they head into the next round and a top of the table clash with Manchester United. This was the Fran Kirby show as the England forward helped herself to four goals.

Full Time; Reading 0 v 5 Chelsea

The WSL is back on January 17th, with the top two meeting as Manchester United travel to Chelsea. Manchester City will host Aston Villa, Everton will play bottom side Bristol City. Reading will host Arsenal, Birmingham City face Brighton and there’s a London Derby as Tottenham travel to West Ham.