A 1-0 Lionesses defeat to New Zealand will certainly not have been part of Phil Neville’s choreographed World Cup preparations script. Tom Dean examines if there we should be worried about the team or if this defeat is just part of the journey.
The Lionesses boss accused his players of “trying to do too much” while the scores were still level at half-time but the truth was that they should have already been out-of-sight with clear chances spurned in front of goal.
Defeat signals a second loss on the Road To France following April’s defeat to Canada and sent potential warning signs to the 20,076 fans inside the AMEX stadium and the millions more watching on around the country.
In the wake of the defeat Neville has revealed that he knows what team will he put out against Scotland next week which will probably come as a surprise to most England fans as he continued his habitual tinkering right up until the death.
The positives for England were that Lucy Bronze continued to prove why she is the best in the world in her natural right-back position and the experience of Karen Carney and Jill Scott made an instant impact when they entered the field.
And Carney, who is now joint-second with Alex Scott in England’s all-time appearances chart, took quite a simple view of things after the game.
The veteran midfielder would have rather lost against 19th-ranked in the world Football Ferns than in their World Cup opener against Scotland and who could argue with that logic?
But it does raise the questions of whether England are as prepared for this World Cup as they can be and if Neville knows the team he will select have we seen it already among the myriad of combinations this year?
“It is not all doom and gloom and you know what? I would much rather lose here than in a World Cup,” said 31-year-old Carney.
“The thing I liked most about this is that it is a lesson.
“We lost our last warm-up game against Canada in 2015 and we didn’t play very well – we learnt from it and then we went on an unbelievable run.
“I’d rather make a mistake here, learn from it, and go ‘hey we weren’t ruthless enough here – we didn’t do this well’ and then build on it.
“It wasn’t all bad, it was one of our best performances but we just have to turn performances into results and I am proud of the girls and the crowd was fantastic too.”
Follow Tom on Twitter @tombendean