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Australia 1 (Polkinghorne 84)
att: 6,068; at Fulham FC>
England 1 (Kirby 21)
Australia 1 (Polkinghorne 84)
att: 6,068; at Fulham FC
England were left frustrated as the second of their double header of friendlies saw them pegged back late on by Australia, as a combination of wasteful finishing and extremely poor officiating meant they drew a game they ought to have won.
As with the Brazil match three days earlier, England started the match strongly against an understrength Australian side, which was missing several key players including star striker Sam Kerr.
Beth Mead, who was making only her second start, was in lively form early on and after a bad clearance from MacKenzie Arnold went straight to her, she returned the ball goalwards from fully 40 yards out but was narrowly off target. Mead was inches wide with two further efforts before England's enterprising start brought reward on 21 minutes.
Again, Arnold miscued her clearance and this time, Mead seized on the loose ball and held off a challenge before setting up Fran Kirby to score with a neat finish from six yards.
England continued to call the shots with Mead flicking over the bar from Lucy Bronze's cross but they could not force in a second goal whilst in control of the game.
They were almost made to pay by a ‘route one' move from Australia, Arnold's long clearance being flicked on by Lisa De Vanna for the speedy Princess Ibinsi-Isei whose low shot brought out a fine diving save from Mary Earps. This came moments after Mead had claimed a shot of hers had crossed the line at the other end, Arnold having grabbed at the ball in a desperate attempt to keep it out.
As half time approached, England thought they had a second goal when Mead threaded a through ball for Kirby, who unselfishly rolled the ball aside for Lucy Staniforth to slot into the empty net, but celebrations were cut short by an offside flag. Replays showed it to be a shocking decision with Staniforth clearly behind Kirby as she received the pass.
England frustrations were compounded barely a minute later as Mead broke into the area and was flattened by Caitlin Foord's challenge, however a penalty was somehow not awarded.
The second half was a lot more even as Australia came into the game more as a threatening force and Earps needed to be alert as Ibinsi-Isei threatened once again.
England were finding it more difficult now to create clear cut chances, with a number of promising moves breaking down with the final pass. They did however go close once again, Kirby having a shot cleared off the line by Claire Polkinghorne.
Controversy was never far away though and they were denied what looked to be a second clear penalty when Nikita Parris raced into the area and was brought down by Foord. The officials appeared to be the only people in the ground who did not think it was a penalty.
Australia had begun to look more dangerous as the half wore on and it took a fine save from Earps to keep out a drive from Ellie Carpenter, palming it over the bar. From the resulting corner though, Polkinghorne ran in unchallenged and planted a firm downward header past Earps for the equaliser.
England could well have been back in front straight away as Racherl Daly latched on to an underhit back pass and squared the ball across for Fara Williams but Polkinghorne, who had a fine match, did well to intercept and deny England's most capped player a tap in.
England: Mary Earps, Lucy Bronze, Alex Greenwood, Jordan Nobbs, Steph Houghton, Abbie McManus (sub Leah Williamson 86mins), Lucy Staniforth (sub Rachel Daly 63mins), Keira Walsh, Beth Mead (sub Nikita Parris 63mins), Fran Kirby (sub Fara Williams 76mins), Toni Duggan. Subs not used: Carly Telford, Millie Bright, Izzy Christiansen, Hannah Blundell, Gabrielle George, Siobhan Chamberlain.
Australia: Mackenzie Arnold, Claire Polkinghorne, Chloe Logarzo (sub Alexandra Chidiac 82mins), Stephanie Catley, Elise Kellond-Knight, Caitlin Foord, Lisa De Vanna (sub Mary Fowler 66mins), Tameka Butt, Amy Sayer (sub Emily Gielnik 55mins), Ellie Carpenter, Princess Ibinsi-Isei (sub Larissa Crummer 66mins). Subs not used: Jada Mathyssen-Whymen, Aivi Luik.
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