Before they took on Iceland yesterday, England Women’s Under-19s’ played their first game of a mini-tournament at St George’s Park against Wales, which also sees the side play Belgium on Tuesday.
The competition will decide who will go to this summer’s 2022 UEFA European Women’s Under-19 Championship Finals, set to take place in Czech Republic. It was a great start, with the home side securing a well-deserved 3-0 victory over the Welsh, with Sunderland’s Young Player of the Year, Neve Herron, playing the full 90 minutes.
Herron played in a 4-1-4-1 formation that manager Gemma Davies deployed in order to counter Wales 4-3-3. However, at times it looked like England played more of a 3-5-2 with the defensive wingbacks getting forward when the Young Lionesses were in possession and dropping back into a 5-3-2 when the opposition were attacking.
As you can see from the statistics from Wyscout, Herron boasted a high percentage of successful actions and passes. From the video highlights package, she looked to get the ball forward and had great vision to pick a teammate up on the left wing to start an attack. Particularly with passes towards Anouk Denton, Grace Clinton, and Lucy Watson.
England played with a high line along the halfway. This allowed Herron to get forward at times, particularly on the left wing. She allowed herself to be an option, almost as an attacking wing-back to provide an alternative approach to getting forward and creating an opportunity.
She was also quick to disrupt any potential for a counter, getting forward to intercept the ball, getting in front of the opposing player, or closing down the passer, forcing them to go back.
As is the usual case when Herron plays for the Lasses and England, she exuded great confidence and composure, calmly stepping out tackles or executing brilliant turns despite being under pressure.
Her play was intelligent, when an opportunity wasn’t present, Herron was happy to start the play again by playing across to a fellow defender or looking to catch Wales off guard with a long ball up the left wing for a teammate to run onto.
It added a different facet to the game. Whilst others seemed content to play the passing game along the floor, Herron looked to catch Wales off guard and read the play well, looking up to see a potential opportunity and not being afraid to try it. Even on the rare occasion that the long ball didn’t work out, Herron made effort to atone for her mistake and instantly looked to get the attack started again.
Herron also showed great reading and vision within the game on the defence as well. In the highlights I could see her watch the play when Wales were in possession, checking over her shoulder for potential threats or runs by the Welsh forwards and responding quickly, especially when balls when played in over the top.
The footage I’ve seen showed Herron regularly checking her surroundings and making a run back towards goal before Wales even played the ball into the final third. But being smart enough to time her retreat and keep the offside line.
In previous games for the Young Lionesses, Herron has only seen limited minutes. But it appears as though the great performances and patience in her previous matches has reaped rewards. Earning a place in the starting eleven and playing the full game. The Sunderland star conducted herself with brilliant grace, composure, and confidence.
The attacks from Wales were few and sporadic, but Herron made no mistakes and contributed greatly towards build-up, and was solid at the back. Despite the game being relatively one-sided, it still takes great mentality and experience to not lose your composure and focus.
Although she was not in her normal midfield position, playing as a left centre-back, Herron boasted some of the best statistics in the team.
She had 116 Total actions of which 95 were successful. Most of Herron’s contributions came in the form of her passing, of which she had 94 passes, ten long passes, and a passing accuracy of 84%, as well as two dribbles, with one coming in the form of intercepting a pass that would have started a Wales counter.
In this instance, she stepped out of the tackle, took it forward, turned out of another tackle, and laid it off for a teammate to carry forward to start the attack again.
In terms of defensive duties, Herron was involved in 15 duels, with a success rate of 73%. Winning two out of three aerial duels. nine recoveries, with five in England’s half of the pitch and four in Wales’, with a 100% success rate of maintaining possession after the recovery. And lastly, Herron also intercepted the ball three times successfully, two of which were intercepted with headers.
Given Herron’s fine performance on Wednesday, she’ll be hoping for more minutes in the two remaining international fixtures before returning back to Sunderland for the last two games of the domestic season.
Working on an analytical piece of Sunderland's Neve Herron playing for England WU19 yesterday.— Charlotte Patterson (@kirbyhazard) April 7, 2022
Hoping to have it out later tonight. But here's a clip of some of her short, medium and long passing, defensive positioning, duels and interceptions.
️Video Credit: WyScout pic.twitter.com/eIutivYUDy
As for the game against Wales itself, after a scoreless first half Mia Ross of Charlton and Villa’s Deearna Goodwin’s quick goals allowed the Young Lionesses to develop some rhythm and tempo in the game.
Despite chances in the first half, the English side just weren’t clinical enough in front of goal and the opportunities they did have, were misplaced. It would take England until the 54th minute to score the opener, after some great play following a short corner allowed Ross to tower above the Wales defence and head the ball home.
The momentum was then with England, and just three minutes later, the Young Lionesses doubled their lead when Grace Clinton’s through ball was inch-perfect, allowing Deearna Goodwin to use her pace to run onto it and calmly fire it into the net.
In the final moments of the game, England rounded off the scoring with a third. Goalscorer Goodwin turned goal provider when she cut it back for Sheffield United’s Lucy Watson to strike first time past the keeper from five yards out with six minutes left on the clock.
They will be hoping to continue this good form in the two remaining fixtures.