England manager Phil Neville has admitted that an early goal would have completely changed the potential outcome of the game as his side fell to a shock 1-0 defeat to New Zealand at The Amex Stadium this afternoon.
The Lionesses had a number of good chances to score during the first half-hour in Brighton but were unable to break the deadlock. They were made to rue those missed chances early in the second half with Sarah Gregorious netting the decisive goal for the Football Ferns.
Jodie Taylor failed to strike up a partnership with Fran Kirby in attack while Toni Duggan and Nikita Parris were quiet on a frustrating afternoon in East Sussex.
Speaking in the post-match press conference, England boss Neville admitted that converting one of their many early chances could have changed the outcome of the game.
“Ultimately, in the first 25 minutes I thought that we should have been two or three up” he said. “If we had have been two or three nil up, the game would have been simple.
“It had the feel of an attack v defence game from the side where they just hit us with a sucker punch.”
The Lionesses’ response to Gregorious’ 50th-minute strike for New Zealand was tame with only substitute Karen Carney able to work visiting keeper Erin Nayler during the 40 minutes which followed, her shot being straight at the Bordeaux stopper. Neville believes that his side were simply too desperate to make things happen in the final third and that ultimately cost them at least an equaliser.
Neville added “Their goal made us a little anxious in the final third.
“Even after 75 minutes I looked up at the clock and it felt like the players got a little bit desperate with 15 minutes left plus four minutes injury time.
“We actually got the message on to keep taking extra passes but I actually think that the occasion and wanting to get back into the game so badly cost us, they were just so desperate.”
England end the ‘Road to France’ series with two wins and two defeats. The Lionesses defeated Spain and Denmark but suffered 1-0 losses against both Canada and New Zealand.