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Wylie's girls battle all the way but find England too strong


Northern Ireland’s Lauren Robson.

Northern Ireland’s Lauren Robson.

Charlie Wellings

Charlie Wellings

Northern Ireland’s Lauren Robson.

Northern Ireland struggled to cope with a slick performance from England that silenced the crowd at Shamrock Park last night, the visitors storming to a 5-0 victory in the Women's International Cup.

England showed considerable skill to dismantle the talented USA in their opening game, and took their performance level up a gear last night.

Northern Ireland started with the same discipline and defensive resolve they had shown against France, doing well to contain a forward-thinking English side for the first 30 minutes.

England dominated possession with pinpoint passing, but struggled to create clear chances and were forced into a spate of long range efforts.

Samantha Tierney, Georgia Allen and Lucy Shepherd all had efforts on goal, but no-one could beat Caoihme Callaghan, who looked to be in the same form that stood her in good stead against the French.

Chloe Kelly and Chloe Peplow in particular dominated midfield, creating a series of chances both for themselves and their team mates, and the English attacking force sparked to life in the 37th minute, making the breakthrough that led to three goals in five minutes.

A mistake from Callaghan allowed Charlie Wellings, who scored a screamer against the USA, to break through and fire England ahead.

Shepherd then doubled the lead, thanks to a sweeping cross from Wellings.

Wellings netted her second on 41 minutes courtesy of a through ball from Allen.

Wellings almost went in at the break with a hat-trick, but her strike was denied by a goal line clearance from Sion Swifts' Teresa Burns, who showed tremendous work rate in defence.

It was one way traffic for Mo Marley's side in the second half, and Zoe Cross rifled the ball into the back of the net from 18 yards after NI failed to clear their lines.

England were then awarded a free kick when Shepherd was brought down just outside the penalty area, and left back Sian Johnson hit a fabulous strike with her left foot which sailed past Callaghan.

However manager Alfie Wylie remains positive.

"England are a very good side and worked very hard, but I don't think 5-0 is a true reflection," he said.

"We conceded silly goals and we could have caved in, but the girls showed character and if we can eliminate silly mistakes it'll make it hard for anyone to beat us.

"Playing the top teams will only help us, and that's why the tournament is so brilliant for us."

Northern Ireland: Callaghan, Moore, Robson, McMaster (Beattie 62), Burns, Hamilton, Orr, Bassett, Magee (Crawford 80), White, Cochrane (Coppel 85).

Subs not used: McCaughtry, Currie, McGinn, Downey, Olive, Beggs.

England: Rogers, Parker (Rouse 83), Fisk, Kelly (Elmore 56), Peplow, Cross, Allen, Tierney, Wellings (Devlin 78), Johnson, Shepherd.

Subs not used: MacIver, Pacheco, Finnigan, Babajide, Brown, Dean.

At Mourneview Park, France were beaten 3-1 by the USA, who bounced back stylishly from their opening defeat against England. Inés Boutaleb gave France the lead but two impressive strikes from Kelsey Turnbow sent the USA in at the break with their noses in front. Isabella Briede added the third.

Belfast Telegraph