England hold slick France to a draw in Doncaster
PUBLISHED: 22:54 21 October 2016 | UPDATED: 22:54 21 October 2016
Danny Loo Photography 2016
England Women's long wait for a victory over France continues after their goalless draw at the Keepmoat Stadium.
In a week during which Doncaster Rovers Belles suffered relegation at this very stadium in the Women’s Super League, the national side also endured a tough time of things during an evening in which they were forced to play on the back foot for the most part.
This was always going to be a stern test for Mark Sampson’s team against the third best side in the world – England are ranked at five – and with the weight of history behind them.
England hadn’t beaten France since 1974, but even though this French outfit were missing a number of key players they still had plenty of quality about them.
The Lionesses themselves have just sailed through a straightforward Euro 2017 qualification campaign which saw them go unbeaten, but in this, the first of three friendlies before Christmas, they could count themselves lucky that for all of France’s possession they failed to produce where it really mattered in the final third.
There was a starting place for Arsenal midfielder Jordan Nobbs, the former University of Hertfordshire student, who this week was shortlisted for the England Women’s 2016 Player of the Year award.
Herts alumni Danielle Carter was also shortlisted for an award this week when she was put forward for the Young Player of the Year award. She started on the bench alongside Welwyn GC’s Alex Scott.
Elise Bussaglia went close on 17 minutes for the visitors but her 25-yard shot flew over the bar and into the stand. This was followed by a similar effort by the same player 10 minutes later.
Lucy Bronze then put in a foot to deny a quick attack from France as she picked the pocket of Eugenie Le Sommer in the England box, before at the other end Bronze had a chance with a diving header but nodded it into the ground and it bounced away from the goal.
Both teams traded 20-yard shots at the start of the second half, while Scott came on with 20 minutes to go for Gemma Davison in a half that struggled to get going leaving the crowd of more than 7,000 hardy souls to entertain themselves with a Mexican wave.
Clarisse Le Bihan then fired straight at Karen Bardsley before late in the match England substitute Toni Duggan put the ball in the net but it was ruled offside and England had failed to score against the French for the fifth consecutive match.
Next up for Sampson’s team, who are now eight unbeaten, is Spain away on Tuesday.
England: Bardsley, Bronze, Stokes, Moore, Houghton, Potter, J Scott, Nobbs, Daly (Parris 58), Carney (Duggan 88), Davison (A Scott 71). Subs: Chamberlain, Bassett, Stoney, Christiansen, Williams, Bright, Earps, Carter.