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England stay top of group
 Women's Football News 23 Nov 2008
 
England stay top of group - 23 Nov 2008 - Women's Football NewsEngland battled out a 1-1 draw with Nigeria, meaning they need to avoid defeat in their final group game to book their place in the quarter finals of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
 
The point keeps England on top of Group A, ahead of Nigeria on goal difference, with forthcoming opponents New Zealand a point behind after their 4-3 win over hosts Chile, who have been eliminated.
 
Mo Marley opted to keep an unchanged side from that which beat Chile and England found themselves under early pressure as they strove to cope with the pace and strength of the Nigerians. However they defended sensibly and restricted their opponents to long range efforts, meaning that Rebecca Spencer was relatively untroubled apart from gathering two low crosses very well.
 
England began to come into the game as an attacking force and their first effort on goal came as Natasha Dowie dragged a shot just wide from the edge of the area. Jessica Clarke began to emerge as a threat to Nigeria with her pace and trickery and she almost gave England the lead with a powerful 25-yard strike which hit the bar.
 
Brooke Chaplen also went close but England's good end to the half was rewarded in injury time as they opened the scoring, albeit in fortuitious circumstances. Dowie did well down the right to get away from her marker and send in a cross which was spilled by goalkeeper Marbel Egwuenu and over the line. The goal has been officially credited to Dowie although it is unlikely that the ball was goalbound.
 
After the break, Nigeria pressed forward to try and get themselves back into the game but England continued to defend well. At the other end, England were less of an attacking force with the strong running Dowie ploughing a lone furrow up front but still looked dangerous from set pieces, particularly those from Claire Rafferty.
 
However it was a free kick at the other end which led to Nigeria drawing level. Rita Chikwelu's shot came back off the bar and Ebere Orji was on hand to stab home at the second attempt.
 
England needed to hold on as Nigeria sought a second goal and Sarah Michael went close when she headed just wide from a corner. Once again though as the half drew to a close, England finished strongly and almost claimed victory as Rafferty's cross picked out Dowie whose header was saved by Egwuenu. Rafferty then produced a free kick which was saved and England, although having to settle for a point, still have matters in their own hands.
 
England: Rebecca Spencer, Chelsea Weston, Claire Rafferty, Danielle Buet (sub Rachel Williams 66mins), Fern Whelan, Steph Houghton, Toni Duggan (sub Becky Hall 84mins), Remi Allen, Natasha Dowie, Brooke Chaplen, Jessica Clarke. Subs not used: Ashley Baker, Helen Alderson, Sophie Bradley, Gilly Flaherty, Kerys Harrop, Michelle Hinnigan, Sophie Walton, Jade Moore.

Nigeria: Marbel Egwuenu, Joy Jegede, Ulunma Jerome, Helen Ukaonu, Rebecca Ifeoma Kalu, Esther Michael, Sarah Michael, Ebere Orji (sub Faustina Ugwuadu 82mins), Ogonna Chukwudi, Rita Chikwelu, Bukola Saheed (sub Tawa Ishola 53mins). Subs not used: Charity John, Onyekachi Mbalisi, Margaret Dike, Glory Iroka, Chioma Nwabueze, Esther Eno Edem, Esther Victor, Chidinma Anoruo.

 
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