England U21 women in Cardiff for test series

Rebecca van Berkel at Junior World Cup 2013 - Frank Uijlenbroek

Last weekend England’s U21 Women were at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, for a series of test matches against the Welsh Senior team.

Three competitive and energetic games saw the U21s gain some valuable experience against a challenging senior side, continuing their progress from the Easter weekend's matches in Lille against France.

Match 1 – England 0-2 Wales

Wales proved their experience in the first game of the series with two goals and no reply from England. Seven minutes before the break a strong penalty corner from Ellie Barnes gave Wales the lead, and while England did their best to try and go into the second half on a draw they were unable to score a leveller. In the second half England held off the Welsh team well, with several penalty corners that they were unable to convert. However, three minutes before the final whistle Wales’ Abi Welsford was able to break through the English defence to double Wales’ lead and finish the game 2-0 in their favour.

Match 2 – England 1-0 Wales

Saturday’s game was more on England’s side as they were able to better control the game and keep the momentum on their side. 18 minutes in Lucy Wood made her way into the circle and got around the Welsh keeper, which gave England a lead they were able to hold on to for the rest of the half. Despite three penalty corners over the course of the game from England, the Welsh defence proved up to the task of stopping the U21s furthering their lead. As the young squad were also able to stop Wales from swinging the game their way, holding on to their lead meant the match ended 1-0 to England.

Match 3 – England 0-0 Wales

The last match of the series showed that the score doesn’t always reflect the game, as despite the even scoreline Wales were frequently threatening the English side’s goal keeping England on the defensive. There were five penalty corners that the team had to deal with, but the U21’s keeper was on form as she kept them all away from the back of the net. Time ran out with neither team getting a lead on the other, and at the end of the test match series each team walked away with one goal apiece, with some valuable senior-level practice for the U21 side.

After the series Kevin Johnson, U21 women’s Head Coach, had this to say, “Playing the Welsh Senior team over three very competitive games offered us a step up in tempo and intensity and provided us with a much stronger physical challenge to deal with. Whilst the squad continued to make progress in key areas, particularly with our defensive structure, we need to become more purposeful and clinical in the final third of the pitch, to make the most of the good attacking opportunities created.”

U21 Test series squad

Laura Bevan
Eliza Brett
Olivia Chilton
Lydia Clissitt
Lucie Daman
Emily Defroand
Lizzie Gittens
Kate Holmes
Holly Hunt
Saskia Janzen
Kathryn Lane
Grace Lawes
Kim Leiper
Pippa Lewis
Livy Paige
Mollie Rawnsley
Helen Reeves
Ellie Tait
Amy Tennant
Anna Toman
Emma Trunks
Rebecca Van Berkel
Rebekah Walker
Alice Wills
Lucy Wood