Published 07 January 2022 7 min read
England Women's Senior Team

England have to settle for a point against Olympic champions Canada

Written by:

Tom Masters

  • M. Bright (22′)
FULL TIME
Arnold Clark Cup Group Stage
Thursday 17 February, 07:30 PM Riverside Stadium
1 1
HT: 1 - 0
  • J. Beckie (55′)
  • A. Lawrence (48′)
  • K. Buchanan (85′)
Millie Bright's first-half goal is cancelled out by Janine Beckie in the Lionesses' first game of the Arnold Clark Cup at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium

PLAY WOMEN'S & GIRLS' FOOTBALL

England Women were held for the first time under Sarina Wiegman as the Lionesses and Canada played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in their Arnold Clark Cup opener at the Riverside.

The Lionesses took the lead through Millie Bright’s excellently-struck volley midway through the first half as England dominated the opening 45 minutes. 

But Canada showed why they are Olympic champions and early in the second half Janine Beckie’s perfect curling strike levelled the scores, as England conceded for the first time under Wiegman. 

The result comes after the other match in the tournament so far saw Germany snatch a 1-1 draw with Spain, with all four teams completely level after one game.

Leah Williamson captained England once again during tonight's match against Canada
Leah Williamson captained England once again during tonight's match against Canada

England’s impressive pressing was a feature of the opening 20 minutes in Middlesbrough, with both sides looking solid but equally demonstrating moments of quality. 

An excellent bit of defending from Bright prevented a big opportunity for Canadian forward Jordyn Huitema from a corner after 12 minutes. 

But England began to showcase their style with some intricate passing throughout the team, with Lauren Hemp and Fran Kirby enjoying freedom on the ball on the wings. 

And on 22 minutes, England made that pressure count, with Bright’s sumptuous volley hitting the back of the net after Canada were unable to clear.

Match line-ups

England went short with the set-piece, with Alex Greenwood’s enticing cross punched away by Kailen Sheridan in the Canada net. 

But that could only go as far as Bright, whose volley quickly nestled in the bottom left corner to give England a deserved lead. 

Just over ten minutes later and England’s dominance was almost rewarded for a second time as first Alessia Russo, who was making her first start for the senior side, and then Ella Toone saw their shots on goal blocked. 

The Lionesses kept coming though and as half-time approached, the excellent Hemp couldn’t quite direct her volley on target after a sublime run and ball in from captain Leah Williamson

Canada came flying out of the blocks in the second period and showed their threat just after the break when captain Jessie Fleming was clear on goal, but her pass across the box couldn’t quite create a clear-cut opportunity. 

Alessia Russo made her first start for the England women's senior team against Canada
Alessia Russo made her first start for the England women's senior team against Canada

It was not long though before Canada were on the attack again, however, and this time they did find the back of the net. 

Ten minutes into the second half, Beckie received the ball just outside the box, cut back inside and curled a superb equaliser into the top corner past Mary Earps, who up to that point had enjoyed a very quiet evening. 

Hemp almost put Wiegman’s side straight back into the lead two minutes later, however, as she got onto the end of a brilliant splitting ball through from Keira Walsh only for Sheridan to parry it away for a corner. 

The final 20 minutes proved to be just as frantic, with Nikita Parris’ effort brilliantly blocked by Kadeisha Buchanan and the Arsenal then left appealing for a penalty late on.

But ultimately neither side was able to find a winner and England now turn their attention to Spain on Sunday at Carrow Road.

Lucy Bronze made her return for England after missing Sarina Wiegman's first six games in charge due to injury
Lucy Bronze made her return for England after missing Sarina Wiegman's first six games in charge due to injury

England (4-3-3): 1 Mary Earps; 2 Rachel Daly, 6 Millie Bright, 5 Alex Greenwood, 3 Demi Stokes; 8 Leah Williamson (C), 10 Ella Toone, 4 Keira Walsh; 7 Fran Kirby, 22 Alessia Russo, 11 Lauren Hemp

Substitutes: 14 Georgia Stanway for Toone 45’, 12 Lucy Bronze for Daly 65’, 17 Nikita Parris for Williamson 65’, 15 Jess Carter on for Greenwood 65’, 16 Beth Mead on for Hemp 65’, 9 Ellen White on for Russo 75’ 

Substitutes not used: 13 Hannah Hampton, 21 Ellie Roebuck, 9 Ellen White, 18 Jordan Nobbs, 19 Niamh Charles, 20 Jill Scott, 23 Katie Zelem 

Goal: Bright 22’ 

Head coach: Sarina Wiegman 

Canada (4-3-3): 18 Kailen Sheridan; 8 Jayde Riviere, 3 Kadeisha Buchanan, 24 Vanessa Gilles, 10 Ashley Lawrence; 7 Julia Grosso, 11 Desiree Scott, 17 Jessie Fleming; 16 Janine Beckie, 9 Jordyn Huitema, 6 Deanne Rose 

Substitutes: 15 Nichelle Prince on for 9 Huitema 58’, 5 Quinn on for 7 Grosso 58’, 26 Chloe Lacasse on for Riviere 65'

Substitutes not used: 22 Sabrina D’Angelo, 2 Allysha Chapman, 4 Shelina Zadorsky, 13 Sophie Schmidt, 14 Gabriella Carle, 20 Tanya Boychuch, 25 Marie-Yasmine Alidou D’Anjou, 27 Sura Yekke, 29 Victoria Pickett 

Goal: Beckie 55’ 

Yellow Cards: Lawrence 47’, Buchanan 85’ 

Head coach: Bev Priestman  

Referee: Lina Lehtovaara (Finland)

Star Performer

Millie Bright won the Arnold Clark Player of the Match award and was a deserved winner.

It is common for a goalscorer to win such awards after matches but tonight it was the Chelsea star’s imperious work in defence which stood out.

The centre back won almost every header, including several from dangerous crosses into the box, and her marking of the Canadian forwards was crucial in the Lionesses nullifying the opposition threat, particularly in the first half.

What Was Said

Sarina Wiegman

“I think this was the competitive match we needed, so we could explore all the areas of the game and we did. I think we played very well in the first half, although I thought we were sometimes a little sloppy. 

“We created chances and we have to be more ruthless to score out of the chances we create. 

“I think the second half was sloppier when we tried to be less sloppy, we had some hard times but it’s good to see how we reacted with this. 

“We had some hard times, but it’s good to see how we reacted to this. They did some things different too, and we had a hard time answering that and getting our organisation right, and we lost too many balls to control the game better in the second half.” 

She continued: “First of all, we need a little more tightness on the ball. I think our shape was really good in the first half, but in the second half we dropped off a little bit, which is probably also because of some changes from Canada. 

“Then we need to be tighter and stay together, sometimes the spaces were so big out of possession, so we need to do that a little better.”

When asked about Bright and Hemp, Wiegman added: “They were really good, I’m impressed.

“At the end we tried to score, and they tried to score and those were very important moments, and Lauren is just growing and growing and getting better every day.”

Millie Bright

“It was exciting, I think it shows the progress we’ve made as a team, it shows what we set out to achieve and what we want to do. You can really see the improvement as a squad, and it’s great to get some different players on the pitch. 

“I think in the first half we were excellent but in the second half we were quite sloppy, quite transitional.

“We’re happy with the point, but there is lots to work on.”

When asked about her impressive finish for the goal, Bright replied: “The other day in training I was actually working on them (volleys). It’s something I want to add to my game, I want to be more of a threat at set pieces and do my bit for the team. But I was just happy I could help in that way.”

Before adding: “Our mentality for every game is the same, we see every opponent as a tough game, but I think most importantly we are excited to play top teams [in the Arnold Clark Cup], and that’s something that we’ve not really had the chance to do yet.

“So it’s a great opportunity for us as a squad to see where we’re at and to push ourselves against the best - that’s what you want as players.” 

Highlights of England Women v Canada