Sarina Weigman not only handed a start to one of our local lasses but found room for a few changes from Friday night. Notably, former Lasses fullback Lucy Bronze was unavailable and replace by Rachel Daly and Alessia Russo was handed the opportunity to start up front.
Their opponents, Switzerland, had been on a really impressive winning run until their last two games where they were beaten by Italy and last week were handed a 7-0 thumping by Germany. So they were looking to bounce back before their own Euros campaign begins.
England started the brighter as is expected. Moved the ball nicely, forced the Swiss back into their own half and Fran Kirby in particular was bright. In fact, the first guilt-edged opportunity fell to her in the first 5 minutes as the ball was played into the box for Beth Mead to chase, only for the clearance to ricochet into Kirby whose close-range effort was well saved by the goalkeeper.
It was wasteful from England early on as Russo slipped Mead in behind on the right, she cut the ball back for Lauren Hemp who could only put her shot straight at the keeper. Very promising start though.
10 minutes played when Hemp again went down the left, as she so often did against Holland, beat the full back and pulled the ball back to Russo who had made a great run into the 6-yard box but the defence did enough to make the chance too difficult.
Another 5 minutes pass and this time it was the Swiss looking to create. A poor throw from Rachel Daly was easily cut out inside our own half and the ball into the box was a good one but the striker couldn’t make a clean connection. England had marshalled their opponents well so far but that was a warning.
It took until around the 30-minute mark for England to fashion another chance. Both sides had some of the ball without creating any real threat until England managed to put a few passes together, sustain some pressure and force a corner. The ball swung in by Greenwood was well met and cleared agonisingly off the line for England.
As the half began to wind down Switzerland created another opportunity. Daly lost a 50/50 (and looked to take a knock as well) and the Swiss broke from midfield again down the left hand side and the ball in was tantalising, Earps in goal missed it but fortunately for England, so did everyone else.
England continued to patiently force the Swiss back, moving the ball well across the pitch and searching for space in wide areas. Russo had some joy winning the ball high up the pitch from Calligaris but nothing came of it and then shortly after tried it again on the same player but the referee didn’t look kindly on a (let’s say) “firm” challenge. A yellow for Russo and the half time whistle shortly followed.
England started the second half unchanged and the early exchanges were quite tame. A Swiss defender inadvertently landed on Lauren Hemp’s wrist the only action as the Lionesses controlled proceedings without really threatening.
That is until the 56th minute when England’s possession and patience finally paid off. Williamson played another great ball from the back, cross-field to Rachel Daly who pinged a deep cross to the far post where Russo expertly re-directed it back across goal into the opposite corner for 1-0!
Little side note here to just to point out a Beth Mead tackle where she tracked back down the right and absolutely smashed a Swiss player while also winning the ball cleanly. Lovely.
The start of the second half was so much better for England, they showed no sign of stepping off the gas and looked to have Switzerland worried. This was obviously to the manager’s satisfaction as Weigman made 4 changes at once. This included the withdrawal of Beth Mead, who was much more involved in the second half, and goal scorer Russo.
Another 10 minutes passed by with both sides creating opportunities but none better than Beth England (on for Russo) who rose above the centre half to fire a header goal ward but the Swiss keeper made an excellent save stretching to her left.
Almost immediately after that Chloe Kelly got free down the left and delivered a great cross which was met on the opposite side of the box by Hemp who hit a peach of a volley first time that was then cleared off the line.
The action didn’t stop there though as the ball landed in the box causing mayhem, there was two Swiss defenders on the ground and one of them appeared to handle it, and the referee pointed to the spot [Ed’s note: This was a ridiculous decision, one of the worst you’ll ever see].
Stanway stepped up to take it and scored. The keeper went the right way but it was a really good strike into the side netting. 2-0 England and well deserved.
This England side do not relent once they get going the subs made such an impact. They forced another corner and this time got their rewards, the ball fired in flat and Beth England powered it goal wards. Chloe Kelly may have got a touch, but who cares? It was 3-0. (Maybe Beth England will care).
More importantly than who did or didn’t score that goal, Jill Scott came on for England! The Mackem stepped onto the pitch for her 154th cap. Haway Jill!
The final 15 minutes England continued to press and were rewarded with a 4th goal and it was yet another cross in from the left hand side and this time it was Jill ‘Reliable’ Scott who was arriving at the back post to covert the header.
Classic Jill Scott, more rewards for England and the depth of attacking talent they have up front will fill them with confidence before the Euros kick off. The goal made her the only woman to have scored goals for England in three different decades and reminded everyone of her value as the most experienced player in the squad.
Keep an eye out on Roker Report as there will be a Euros preview coming soon as well as a podcast with She Kicks magazine editor Jen O’Neill before England first game of the tournament against Austria on at a packed Old Trafford Wednesday 6th July at 20:00.