England Women denied by late Australia equaliser

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Australia’s Clare Polkinghorne netted a late equaliser as England Women were controversially forced to settle for a 1-1 draw in their international friendly at Craven Cottage.

England had two strong penalty appeals turned down, a goal disallowed and another effort deemed not to have crossed the line after taking an early lead through Fran Kirby.

But Phil Neville’s dominant side were also guilty of wasting a succession of chances and they paid the price when Polkinghorne headed a leveller six minutes from time.

Performance-wise, Neville will take much from the game as he continues with his World Cup preparations but he will be bemused not to have followed Saturday’s victory over Brazil with another win.

England, ranked third in the world, were far better than the Australians, who are ranked sixth, and troubled the visitors consistently throughout.

The impressive Beth Mead was at the heart of much of their good play and had three early chances.

She first miscued after a deflected pass presented her with an unexpected opening but then tested Australia goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold with a neat flick. She went close again when she curled a low shot narrowly wide.

England were rewarded for their superiority in the 21st minute when Mead broke into the box and squared across goal for Kirby. The Chelsea forward, who scored the only goal against Brazil, wrong-footed the defence with a brilliant turn and blasted past Arnold.

Australia showed some threat as Princess Ibini whipped in a dangerous cross but Chloe Logarzo could not make the most of the chance.

England almost had a second after 33 minutes after captain Steph Houghton’s powerful header was pushed out by Arnold and Mead pounced on the rebound. Mead claimed she had poked home before Arnold clawed it away but no goal was given.

As England appealed, they were almost caught out by a quick counter-attack but Ibini shot at Mary Earps.

England had the ball in the net again after Mead played in Kirby and she squared for Lucy Staniforth to strike but the flag was controversially raised for offside.

England boss Phil Neville was frustrated after his side failed to hold on
England boss Phil Neville was frustrated after his side failed to hold on (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Australia had the first chance of the second half when Ibini was denied by the feet of Earps but England again went close as Toni Duggan shot at Arnold and substitute Rachel Daly headed over. Arnold also kept out a Daly backheel and a Nikita Parris shot.

Parris was then felled by Foord as she raced through on goal on another break but, again, no penalty was given.

England’s frustrations were compounded when Polkinghorne rose to head in from a corner moments after Earps had saved from Ellie Carpenter.

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