England learned a painful lesson tonight at Craven Cottage where they drew 1-1 with Australia in a friendly - take your chances and kill the game off.
Chelsea’s Fran Kirby did her job by notching up the Lionesses goal, but poor finishing from Beth Mead in particular meant that as the clock ticked down, the Aussie’s with their only real clear chance of the second half rammed home an equaliser from the head of Clare Polkinghorne.
Had there been better officiating however, England would have gone 3-0 up.
Lucy Staniforth had a goal disallowed for offside, while substitute Nikita Parris should have had a penalty.
But it was the missed chances that will worry manager Phil Neville as he porepares his side for next year’s World Cup in France.
Beth mead missed a sitter on five minutes when he raced clear with only goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold to beat. But she somehow screwed he right-footer wide of goal from the edge of the box.
The Aussies counter-attacked well two minutes later, but Elise Mellon’s-Knight catapult;to her effort. A brilliant break by the Lionesses saw Arnold get down well to a near post back-heeled flick by Mead on seven minutes.
Mead failed to take advantage of a woeful kick out by Arnold on 14 minutes which saw the ball given straight to her. She attempted an audacious long-range chimp, but again was wide of the mark.
England pressure then swam her try a daisy-cutting left-footer, this time, a bit more controlled. It edged round a defender Stephanie Catley, but inched wide of Arnold’s right post.
Mead was shown a yellow card fro a clumsy lunge on Chloe Logarzo, which she claimed took the ball, but she almost cut Logarzo’s leg in two in the process.
A cataclysmic error by Arnold on 21 minutes saw her give the ball away to Mead in her penalty area. Mead took two touches before sliding the ball to Chelsea’s Fran Kirby, who controlled the ball, spun around and thumped a left-footer drive into the Aussie goal to open the scoring for the Lionesses.
It was Kirby’s12th goal in her 34th England appearance.
A mad minute almost saw Mead score when a long range effort was half saved by Arnold. The Arsenal striker leaped in but her shot at the near post was snaffled by the keeper. Did the ball cross the line - the lineswoman said no.
Seconds later and Mart Earps was for dinner in to a low diving save fog her own, as the Matilda’s countered quickly. Princess Ibini-Isel pile driver was goal-bound but not sufficiently powerful to worry the Wolfsburg stopper.
The lineswoman Solenne Bartnik made a howler on the stroke of half-time when she adjudged Lucy Staniforth as offside as she slide home into an empty net after Kirby had set her up with an inch-perfect pass.
There’s were no changes at half time.
England’s intensity had noticeably increased and Kirby was unlucky not to add to her tally. Arnold the saviour.
A last-gasp goal line clearance by Clare Polkinghorne thwarted Kirby on 62 minutes as the striker hit the perfect acute angled shot towards goal. But the defender hacked the ball away.
Phil Neville replaced Staniforth and Mead for Rachel Daly and Nikita Parris seconds later.
Daly was inches away from making the perfect start but he near-post flick from an Lucy Duggan byline cross justly skipped over the Aussie crossbar on 66 minutes.
Kirby’s night was done with 15 minutes left on the clock as she was replaced by Fara Williams.
Parris though she had. Stonewall penalty on 80 minutes when she out sped Catley. The two clashed the ball was touched on by Parris - Catley scythed her down but the other lineswoman Manuela Nicolosi decided not to see it and so referee Florence Guillemin played on.
A sensational save from Earps from Ellie Carpenter’s vicious shot showed that the 1-0 was precarious. From the resultant corner up jumped an unmarked Catley to power home the equaliser. Skipper Steph Houghton should picked the defender up but while watching her allowed her the freedom to attack the lofted cross.
Teams: England, Earps, Bronzer, Greenwood, Nobbs, Houghton, Kirby, Duggan, McManus, Walsh, Staniforth, Mead
Subs, Telford, Chamberlain, Bright, Parris, Christiansen, Daly, Blundell, Williams, Williamson, George
Australia, Arnold, Polkinghorne, Logarzo, Catley, Kellond-Knight, Ford, De Vanna, Butt, Sayer, carpenter, Ibini-Isel
Subs, Mathyssen-Whyman, Crummer, Luik, Fowler, Gielnik, Chidiac
Referee Florence Guillemin (France)