Tag Archives: Lucy Bronze

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.

Manchester city book wembley place

Manchester City secured their place in the FA Cup Final with a 2-1 win over Arsenal at The Academy Stadium. Sam Mewis scored the winner with her first goal in English football. Steph Houghton had given City the lead before a stunning strike from Jordan Nobbs leveled the game.

Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro commented during his pre match interview that the game would go to who took control early. This turned out to be the case as City started the brightest, getting their passing game going early. Arsenal struggled to gain a foothold in the early exchanges.

City Start strong

City created some early half chances Mewis shooting wide after some good interplay with Lucy Bronze. Sam Mewis was pulling the strings in midfield linking up well with Chole Kelly as City continue to work down the right side. A long cross field pass from Houghton finding Kelly deep inside the Arsenal half, but her shot from the right side went over the bar.

Despite their good work down the right, City’s opening goal came from the left. City won a freekick five/six yards from the Arsenal 18 yard box, just left of the goal. Houghton fired the ball over the wall and into the corner of the goal giving Arsenal keeper Zinsberger no chance.

City 1-0 Arsenal 19′

Arsenal struggling to get their passing flowing and were chasing shadows for long periods of the first half. Vivianne Miedema cut a lonely figure as the Gunners were unable to get the dutch forward in to the game. They did get level slightly against the run of play. Jordan Nobbs with a stunning first time strike looping the ball up and over Ellie Roebuck from 30 yards.

City 1-1 Arsenal 38′

Arsenals parity lasted just two minutes as City fired straight back. A fast pass cross along the six yard box form Chole Kelly towards the incoming Ellen White, who was blocked from goal by Leah Williamson. White managed to play the ball back towards the incoming Mewis who fired home. Arsenal players clamed a handball as White pulled the ball back but the referee gave the goal.

City 2-1 Arsenal 40′

Arsenal pressed for a second equaliser in the second half, Miedema latched on to a through ball and looked to be clear. Demi Stokes followed the run and made a superb challenge in the box, forcing Miedema inside but Stokes was there again to deny the Arsenal forward.

Arsenal kept going and had their best chance in stoppage time. A McCabe free kick straight into the wall fell back to her and she drove into the city box. Whipping a cross along the city six yard box towards Miedema charging in for a free header. With the goal wide open for Miedema to level the game, City keeper Ellie Roebuck’s outstretched hand pushed the ball away from the Arsenal player.

Full-Time City 2-1 Arsenal

After the game Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro told BBC Two:

“They dominated the first 60 minutes, they were better than us and we have no excuses”. “Its disappointing because we had the capacity to play well but tonight wasn’t the night”.

Arsenal’s Jordan Nobbs also offered no excuse telling BBC Two:

“They dominated in the first half and were the better team. We didn’t keep the ball very well at times but in the second half we showed we can play football and if we played like that in the first half we would have been the better team”.

Manchester City boss Gareth Taylor said:

“We played really well in the first half and I was really impressed with the performance and it could arguably have been a bigger lead going into half time”.

Speaking to BBC Two he went on:

“Arsenal had a really good go in the second half and it was fairly tight at the end but we came through”.

A deserved win for Manchester City that sees them head to Wembley to face Everton in the final. Arsenal gave a decent showing in the second half but overall the better team won.

Player of the Match

Sam Mewis gave a player of the match performance getting the winning goal but also pulling the strings in the middle of the park. She linked up well with Chole Kelly and looks to be one of the star players in the WSL this season.

WSL RoundUp Week Two: Champions Chelsea register first win of the 2020-21 Season

The latest round of Women Super League matches incredibly featured two sides scoring nine goals past their respective opponents. 

Indeed, WSL Champions Chelsea registered their first win of the campaign with a 9-0 win over Tanya Oxtoby’s Bristol City side.  

Emma Hayes’ Blues were ruthless in front of goal in an impressive team display, which saw nine different goal scorers.  England International Fran Kirby opened the scoring with her first WSL goal for 16 months since returning from pericarditis. 

The West London club doubled their advantage 16 minutes later through Norwegian defender Maren Mjelde from the penalty spot after Yana Daniels fouled Ji So-yun. 

Scottish winger Erin Cuthbert then ensured that Chelsea’s impressive performance continued as she provided the free kick for Melanie Leupolz to head home, before she scored herself from a long-range strike just outside the penalty area. Millie Bright then headed in the Blue’s fifth just before half time.

Things did not improve for The Robins in the second half as PFA Player of the Year Beth England tapped in from close range, before new signing Niamh Charles got in on the act by scoring on her first appearance for her new club.  

Record signing Pernille Harder then opened her goalscoring account with an impressive backheel into the net before Australian international Sam Kerr completed the rout.

The other team to score nine goals past their opponents was Arsenal, who secured a 9-1 win over London rivals West Ham. 

The match was selected as a test event for the reintroduction of crowds and the 734 fans certainly got their money’s worth. 

The two sides were evenly matched in the first part of the game as Jill Roord put the Gunners ahead with a side-footed finish before the hosts equalised through a Kenza Dali half volley just outside the area. 

The game, however, was effectively over as a contest when Hammer’s captain Gilly Flaherty was sent off just after Arsenal had retaken the lead through Dutch international Vivianne Miedema.

Midfielder Kim Little finished off a fine team move before England striker Beth Mead made it 4-1 to the North London side just before the break.  

The second half saw further misery for the home side and their fans as Roord scored a further two goals to ensure she went home with the match ball for the second game running.  

In between Roord’s goals Miedema was able to add another to her tally before Leah Williamson and Caitlin Foord completed the scoring, which saw the Gunners move to the top of the table, with two wins out of two and managing to score 15 goals in the process.    

New signings Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood meanwhile were unable to inspire Gareth Taylor’s Manchester City side, who, were held to a 0-0 draw in their first home match of the campaign by a stubborn Brighton team.

The other side of Manchester, however, had no such problems as they achieved their first three points of the campaign away at Birmingham City.  Casey Stoney’s Manchester United were successfully able to overturn a 2-1 half-time deficit thanks to two goals from Kirsty Hanson, who inspired United to a 5-2 win.  

Elsewhere, Reading were able to recover from a disappointing 6-1 opening day defeat to Arsenal with a strong first half display against newly promoted Aston Villa.  Goals from Amalie Eikeland, Laura Bruton and a Fara Williams penalty ensured The Royals of a commanding 3-0 lead at half-time.  

Although a penalty from Stine Larsen 11 minutes from the end offered the midlands side a way back into the game they ultimately never looked likely to threaten to get back into the match. 

The final WSL game saw Everton maintain their impressive start to the season with a 1-0 win over Tottenham.  The North London club were minus their new marque signing Alex Morgan, and ultimately did not offer much going forward.  Subsequently, they slumped to defeat on Merseyside, thanks to a header from England international Izzy Christiansen. 

What next?

The Women Super League takes a two-week break with the next round of games being played on Sunday 4thOctober.

Before that though, the weekend of the 26/27thSeptember features Women’s FA Cup Quarter Finals, which includes a North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham. WSL Champions Chelsea, meanwhile, travel to in-form Everton, while Championship side Leicester City take on Gareth Taylor’s Manchester City. 

The remaining Quarter Final sees Hope Powell’s Brighton host Midlands side, Birmingham City. 

Women’s FA Quarter Final Ties

Saturday 26thSeptember

Arsenal Women vs Tottenham Women (12:30pm)

Everton Women vs Chelsea Women (1pm)

Leicester City Women vs Manchester City Women (1pm)

Sunday 27thSeptember

Brighton & Hove Albion Women vs Birmingham City Women (3pm)

Should Lucy Bronze now be considered the best England player of all time?

This week England full back Lucy Bronze returned to the Women Super League, signing a two-year contract with her previous club, Manchester City. 

Bronze concluded her three-year stay with Olympiqe Lyon Feminine by lifting the Champions League last month as the French side secured the trophy with a 3-1 win over Frauen Bundesliga Champions VlB Wolfsburg in San Sebastian. 

During her remarkably successful time with the French Champions, she won all that was available to her: claiming three Champions League titles, three league titles, two Coup de France Feminine and a Trophee des Championnes.

Indeed, the 28-year old also secured a number of individual allocates, including the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year in 2019. 

On Bronze’s return to Manchester, Head Coach Gareth Taylor said:

“She is an unrivalled talent and her endless individual and team awards only scratch the surface of what a superb player she is, not only at Club level, but also internationally with England.”

For the Three Lions Bronze has also produced some memorable moments, one that immediately springs to mind is that stunning goal against Norway in their last 16 game back in 2015.

This, however, begs the question, should she now be considered the best female player that England has ever produced?

Well, when you think of great England Women footballer’s one name that immediately springs to mind is Kelly Smith.

Smith was able to successfully represent the Three Lions for the best part of two decades earning 117 caps. She was one who arguably blazed a trail for future England footballers such as Bronze. 

During her club career she scored a remarkable 125 goals in 144 games for Arsenal Ladies over three separate spells with the Gunners. 

Smith also played for a number of American football teams such as New Jersey Lady Stallions, Philadelphia Charge and New Jersey Wildcats in her eight years in the USA. 

Ultimately, Smith ended her career with 20 trophies in three separate, which included starring in Arsenal’s amazing 2006-07 season where they secured the Quadruple.  She played a key part of this success by scoring 30 goals in 34 matches across those four competitions.  She was also presented the FA Player of Year award twice. 

BBC Match of the Day commentator Jonathan Pearce said:

“She had power, strength, a lovely eye for a pass, finishing of course and was so dynamic in the penalty area. 

“She was a leader because of the way she played, that she demanded respect from her opponents and team-mates.  She was the first England women’s football superstar.” 

In short, what Smith was able to achieve while the English game was not fully professional was terrific but Bronze is certainly on the right path to either match or surpass her.

It is, however, difficult to compare the two players directly as they play different positions.  Bronze is the epitome of the modern day full back, while she can also be utilised in midfield and at times the centre of defence, where as Smith applied her trade typically further forward as a striker.

Overall I would still consider to be Smith to be the greatest player to come from these shores having been able to perform at a consistently high level for a number of years, added to that Bronze has still to win a European trophy with an English club. 

The 28-year old, however, certainly is on the right path and comes back to the WSL at a time when the League has a chance to establish itself as the world’s finest women’s division.  

What do you think? Should Lucy Bronze be considered England’s greatest ever player? Would Kelly Smith still get your vote? Feel free to post in the comments below….