Lionesses Patience Rewarded As Kelly Returns With A Bang

by Louise Wilkes at Molineux for Impetus (18/6/22)

Above: Chloe Kelly celebrates her first Lionesses goal with Manchester City teammate Keira Walsh. Photo: Griffters World Photography.

The Lionesses dominated Belgium 3-0 in their first European Championships warm-up fixture which saw Chloe Kelly get her first England goal on her return to international duty.

Kelly continues her remarkable injury comeback with an energetic second-half performance for the buildup of her first major international tournament. Her strike to the near post took a slight deflection from Belgium defender Amber Tysiak to put England in the lead in the 62nd minute.

Speaking after the game, Kelly said: “Each day was so tough in my rehab and I think looking back, you appreciate those moments that get you here. The blood, sweat, and tears really.

“It was such a tough time but you appreciate those moments so much more because of the hard work that you have put into it in this past 12 months.”

Above: Celebrations for the Lionesses at Wolverhampton. Photo: Girls on the Ball.

From kick-off, the Red Flames looked lethargic and struggled to keep up with the Lionesses’ high-tempo, two-touch play, yet denied the home side until the hour mark.

Rachel Daly doubled England’s lead just four minutes behind Kelly’s strike with a top right-hand corner volley. And after countless creative efforts, Leah Williamson finally reaped the reward. Her first international goal as England Captain. Her strike kissed the crossbar and deflected off Belgian Goalkeeper Nicky Evrard’s head into the back of the net. Game over.

England manager, Sarina Wiegman, explained that it was patience that won them the game, although she’s after more ruthlessness in the final third moving forward, saying: “Of course, we want to score the chances, but as long as you don’t concede one, you have time. You have to have patience, the chance will be recreated”.

Despite the 24-degree heat, constant pressing, and attacking chances, fitness is still a cause for concern throughout the England camp.

Fran Kirby struggled to exert the level of intensity of those surrounding her despite having trained with Chelsea from the end of the Women’s Super League season. Her 30-minute stint up top aroused speculation for the returning striker.

Wiegman said: “We take it day by day, and so far it has gone really well. We see how she recovers from training every day and adjust where needed, but we haven’t had to adjust yet.”

Jess Carter was left out of the action completely with recovery concerns from her WSL season, she is slowly building up to full fitness, although featured on the team sheet. But former captain Steph Houghton did not make the final 23 squad due to Achilles surgery earlier in the year.

England’s defence did not miss centre-back Houghton. Arsenal’s Lottie Wubben-Moy started beside Millie Bright and provided a solid back line.

She said: “The competition in this team is really high, and we have opportunities from many players now and are just looking for connections. We can use different qualities and different positions.

“We have a squad of 23 and actually we could bring in all the players. I hope I don’t get a headache but in this case, I will get lots of headaches.”

Impetus will continue its coverage of the Lionesses build-up to their home European Championships with Darrell Allen at Elland Road for us next Friday for the match against the Netherlands.

Above: The England starting line-up against Belgium. Photo: @Lionesses

Teams: ENGLAND (4-2-3-1): Earps, Bronze, Bright, Wubben-May, Stokes, Williamson, Walsh, Mead, Stanway, Hemp, White. Substitutes: Daly, Hampton (GK), Kirby, Toone, Greenwood, Parris, Kelly, England, Scott, Roebuck (GK), Russo.

Scorers: Kelly 62′, Daly 66′, Evrard (OG) 86′.

BELGIUM (4-4-1-1): Evrard, Deloose, Kees, De Neve, Philtjens, Wijnants, Biesmans, Delacauw, Minneart, De Caigny, Wulleart. Substitutes: Vangheluwe, Tysiak, Onzia, Vanmechelen, Tison, Lemey, Eurlings, Van Kerkhoven, Janssens, Dhont, Lichtfus, Missipo.

Referee: Sara Persson.

Attendance: 9,598.

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