Rotherham’s New York Stadium witnessed a slice of international footballing history yesterday during the friendly between England’s women and their Canadian counterparts.
Rachel Yankey reached the landmark of 125 caps for her country and in doing so grabbed most of the headlines by equalling the great Peter Shilton’s record.
The 33-year-old made her England debut 16 years ago and she lasted 82 minutes of this friendly fixture against last year’s Olympic bronze medallists.
This was the first game that Hope Powell’s team had played on home soil since last September and it acted as a warm-up before they embark on their European Championship campaign in Sweden this summer.
A sizeable attendance of just under 5,000 turned out in force but in truth the game was lacking in real quality until a late header by Ellen White gave England a morale-boosting victory.
The first half saw a scrappy affair ensue with chances few and far between.
Surprisingly, it was full-back Steph Houghton who was the main attacking threat for England in the first half, going close with three chances. The Arsenal player saw two glancing headers fly past the post inside the first 20 minutes before a piledriver flew just over, shortly after.
In the final passage of the first half, the experienced Yankey floated a free-kick that nearly caught out the visitors’ stopper Erin McLeod who had to back-pedal to gather the ball.
The second half began with Canada’s skipper Christine Sinclair seeing her bullet header parried away by Karen Bardsley.
Sophie Schmidt then flashed a shot wide in another attack on the England goal by the visitors before Anita Asante found a crack in the stubborn Canadian defence only to balloon the ball over. Asante was then substituted and her replacement Jordan Nobbs almost made an immediate impact when her effort from outside the box whistled over the bar.
Jess Clarke, Yankey’s replacement, saw a late penalty appeal waved away before midfielder Fara Williams prodded a ball into the area for White to blast a header home as Powell’s side extended their unbeaten run to 10 matches.
*England: Bardsley (Brown 59), A Scott, Houghton, Asante (Nobbs 59), Bradley, Stoney, Aluko (Duggan 69), J Scott, White, F Williams, Yankey (Clarke 82)
*Canada: McLeod, Cameron, Moscato, Kyle, Wilkinson, Matheson, Scott, Sinclair, Schmidt, Buchanan, Sjoman