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England 1 (Handley 86)
att: 4,177; at Swindon Town F.C.
England's last match before the UEFA Championships ended in victory as a late goal from substitute Jody Handley settled a largely scrappy match at the County Ground.
After picking a team full of fringe players for the defeat against Iceland six days earlier, Hope Powell reverted to a stronger starting line up although Kelly Smith was still missing through injury. The match was a special one for Danish defender Katrine Pedersen, once of Fulham, who was winning her 150th cap whilst Katrine Veje made her first appearance.
England were forced into a change before the game had started, Rachel Brown pulled out with a back complaint during the warm-up and this meant that Karen Bardsley made her debut in goal, with Siobhan Chamberlain replacing her on the bench.
Although England enjoyed the better of possession during the early stages, it wasn't until the 18th minute that they produced their first meaningful effort on goal. Lianne Sanderson, released Karen Carney down the right, she found Fara Williams in the area where she drilled a low shot past the far post.
However a piece of hesitant defending almost led to Denmark taking the lead three minutes later as Pedersen's long throw into the area was not dealt with and the ball bounced up for the oncoming Nadia Nadim to head over the bar.
Veje tested Bardsley with a 20-yard shot after cutting in from the right but on the half hour, England were next to go close with the best move of the match so far. Sanderson fed Smith who cut past a couple of challenges before threading a through ball to Williams whose well struck shot brought out a good diving save to her left from Heidi Johansen.
Sanderson headed over a good chance from a pinpoint Casey Stoney cross and Chapman was unable to divert a Smith corner goalwards as England finished the half brightly but still struggling to pierce a strong Danish defence.
The debutant Veje continued to look lively and a good run ended with her shooting straight at Bardsley at the start of the second half.
However England should really have been in front in the 69th minute after Jill Scott released Alex Scott down the right, the full back broke into the area and laid the ball back for Williams whose shot was well parried by Johansen, the ball rolled invitingly across the face of goal and Smith slid in at the far post but her shot went into the side netting with the goal gaping.
Sanne Nielsen shot wastefully wide from a good position after a sloppy England pass had given away possession. At the other end, Williams fired over after being found by Carney in the area.
Williams had another opportunity after Smith intercepted a poor clearance from Johansen but, after turning her marker, she curled her shot wide of the far post.
However England did break the deadlock with just four minutes remaining. Carney received the ball on the left with time and space to drill the ball into the area and her cross was touched on by a neat glancing header from Handley to divert the ball past Johansen and put her side into the lead.
It was a sweet moment for Handley and marked the end of a comeback from a broken leg sustained exactly a year earlier.
Denmark were given an opportunity as the game went into injury time as Williams was penalised 25 yards out but Pedersen's shot flew wide of the goal. The last chance of the match had gone and England had just done enough to earn themselves victory on the night.
England: Karen Bardsley, Alex Scott, Casey Stoney, Katie Chapman, Lindsay Johnson, Anita Asante, Karen Carney, Jill Scott (sub Emily Westwood 90mins), Lianne Sanderson (sub Jody Handley 45mins), Fara Williams, Sue Smith. Subs: Rachel Unitt, Siobhan Chamberlain, Laura Bassett, Michelle Hickmott, Jess Clarke, Faye White, Natasha Dowie, Rachel Williams, Rachel Yankey.
Denmark: Heidi Elgaard Johansen, Katrine Pedersen, Line Hansen, Marie Bjerg, Ditte Larsen, Katrine Veje (sub Tina Rasmussen 72mins), Mette Jensen, Nanna Christiansen (sub Janne Madsen 86mins), Maiken Pape (sub Lene Jensen 45mins), Nadia Nadim, Sanne Nielsen (sub Marianne Pedersen 89mins). Subs: Mia Kjaersgaard-Andersen, Tine Cederkvist Viskaer, Mia Olsen, Cecilie Sandvej.
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