Tag Archives: Steph Houghton

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: The REd devils return to the top

Manchester United returned to the top of the table this weekend after a 2-0 win against Birmingham City. Leah Galton and Ella Toone with goals in the second half securing victory for Casey Stoney’s team.

Manchester City moved into third spot after another big win beating Brighton by seven goals to one. Second placed Chelsea’s game at Bristol City was postponed due to heavy snow. Arsenal also fell victims to the weather as their match vs West Ham was also postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

The only game on Saturday saw Aston Villa host Reading. Reading twice took the lead only for Villa to twice level with the match ending in a 2-2 draw.

Manchester United 2 v 0 Birmingham City

United had the first chance as Lauren James, broke down the left and cut inside the box to create a shooting chance but fired high over the bar. A warning from the in form United forward. United continued to work down the left side, Amy Turners cross field ball was flicked on to Leah Galton on the left. Galton worked her way into the box and fired a shot at goal which was pushed away by Blues keeper Hannah Hampton.

Birmingham were unable to stop United down that left side as Galton was almost put though again, but Hampton was out of her goal quickly to gather the ball. United continued their attacks down the left as Birmingham seemed powerless to stop them.

Ella Toone’s shot was blocked but United recycled the ball and Galton had space inside the box. Her cut back was cleared but United regained the ball and switched play to right. Lauren James played the ball along the six yard box and after and defection it fall to Jackie Groenen but she shot well over the bar.

Katie Zelem played a clear though ball into the box, into the path of Galton. Galton flicked the ball towards gaol with her first touch but Hampton pulled off a fine save diving to her right to push the ball away from goal.

A first half that united dominated ends 0-0.

The second half started as the first ended with United on the attack. They had the lead their played deserved after 46 minutes. Lauren James sent a teasing ball into the six yard box from the right side. The invitation was taken by Galton, getting goal side of Sarah Mayling to side foot the ball into the net.

United kept pressing for a second goal with Ella Tonne shooting over and then straight at Hampton after being played in by Galton. They did get their second after 81 minutes thanks Ella Toone. Kirsty Hanson’s cut back wasn’t cleared by Lucy Whipp and the ball fell to Toone. Striking the ball first time it went across the goal to go in off the far post.

A comfortable win for United who dominated the game. United could have scored more but for some good save from Hannah Hampton and some poor shooting.

United return to the top of the league on 29 points, three above Chelsea who have two games in hand.

Brighton 1 v 7 Manchester City

City hit seven goals for the second league game in a row as they beat Brighton 7-1. City first came after 12 minutes as Chole Kelly’s ball across the box was turned in by Caroline Weir. Weir had a second after 16 minutes following a 1-2 her first time strike flying into the goal. Weir was denied a first half hat trick. Dancing around three Brighton defenders her shot was brilliantly saved by Cecillie Fiskerstrand.

City had a third before the break. From an in swinging corner, Weir flicked the ball at the near post and Steph Houghton turned it in on the line. Half time Brighton 0 v 3 Man City.

Chole Kelly having another fine game played in Ellen White, who’s deft touch put the ball past the keeper for 4-0. Just after the hour it was five nil to City. Steph Houghton’s free kick clipping the bar on its way in the goal.

Brighton got a consolation thanks to Rianna Jarrett. Latching on to a poor pass by City she ran into the box to fire past Ellie Roebuck.

After patience build up where City worked the ball across the pitch the ball ended in the net with Chole Kelly finishing a wonderful City move. Janine Beckie made it seven turning in from close range from Kelly’s cross.

City move up to third ahead of Arsenal, five points off leaders Manchester United albeit with a game in hand.

Aston Villa 2 v 2 Reading

A game that started in sunshine and ended in snow ended with a 2-2 draw despite Reading enjoying the majority of the game. Reading took an early lead thanks to a Angharad James goal after three minutes. Rachel Rowe find Jess Fishlock in lots of space just outside the box. Fishlock fired a shot at goal which was well saved by Villa keeper Lisa Weiss. The loose ball was headed in by James.

Weiss was called into action again tipping over Emma Mitchells long range effort. Fishlock and James combined again, as Fishlock turned in the box to lay off for James who shot wide. Reading controlled the first half with Welsh International Fishlock controlling the midfield. Finding space all the time Fishlock set Beth Roberts up for shot but Weiss saved well.

Natasha Harding found Danielle Carter who set up James for another effort which went just over the bar. Fishlock found Harding in space in the box but her shot was blocked. Villa were unable to clear and the ball fell to Rachel Rowe but her shot was tame and easily saved. Half time Aston Villa 0 v 1 Reading.

Villa against the run of play equalised after 55 minutes. A low free kick from Natalie Haigh caught out Reading and the ball was turned in by Mana Iwabuchi for her first WSL goal.

Reading regained the lead just two minutes later with Rachel Rowe scoring. Jess Fishlock’s ball between the Villa defenders found Rowe inside the box on the right. It looked as Rowe has mis-controlled the ball but some clear footwork allowed her to fire low into the goal.

After the sunshine of the first half the weather turned and the snow begin to fall as Reading looked for a third to kill off the game. Carter had a chance but put it wide before a double save from Weiss. Fishlock driving forward slip the ball into the path of Carter who’s shot was blocked by the advancing Weiss. The Villa keeper was up quickly to deny Amalie Eikeland.

Weiss kept her side in the game and Villa got a second equaliser in the 91st minute. Iwabuchi and Hayles linking up in the box to find Diana Silva who poked the ball into the net. Full Time Aston Villa 2 v 2 Reading.

Reading had the better of the game but couldn’t extend their lead which allowed Villa a chance to get a point. Villa remain 11th but now level on points with West Ham. Reading remain in sixth but will see this as two points dropped.

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.

Manchester City Women appoint HEAD COACH Gareth Taylor

Manchester City’s Women’s side have announced Gareth Taylor as the new Head Coach of the Women Super League side.

Taylor is set to succeed Nick Cushing who moved to New York City FC to take up the role of Men’s Assistant Coach in February this year.

The 47- year-old has previously been coaching the citizens’ under-18 side for the past few seasons winning successive Premier League Under-18 cup titles. Taylor has reportedly signed a three-year deal with the club.

Alan Mahon, who took temporary charge of the WSL side, will aid the former Wales international striker as Assistant Coach.

The former City and Burnley striker, Taylor told the club official website:

“I’m absolutely relishing my new role within City Football Group and I’ll be giving everything I have to continue Manchester City’s success and growth in the women’s game.”

Following the appointment the Club’s head of women’s football, Gavin Makel said:

“I am looking forward to working with Gareth as we enter this new era for the women’s team in which I am confident that we can continue to build upon the successes that we have had over the last six year.”

Taylor’s role will start with immediate affect and he will certainly have the pleasure of working with some talented players. Before the 2019/20 campaign was brought to a conclusion earlier this week the team were top of the league by a point from nearest rivals, Chelsea.

Star names such as England Captain Steph Houghton, Keira Walsh and Caroline Weir have also committed their long-term futures to the club by signing new deals.

Indeed, it certainly bodes well for City to be following the pattern that has worked for them previously, as Cushing himself was an Academy Coach before taking charge of the women’s side for six successful years.

Taylor, however, will have to wait to go into action with his new team as the Football Association have ended the WSL season earlier this week, while the FA have also yet to make a decision on what will happen to the FA Women’s Cup where City made it to the quarter-finals before football was suspended.