Mo applauds character

Mo Marley praised her England team after they came from behind to earn a point against Asian champions South Korea in their opening match of the FIFA Women’s U20 World Cup.

Sodam Lee fired Korea ahead with a 15th-minute penalty but Liverpool right-back Martha Harris smashed home the equaliser midway through the second half to give her side a share of the spoils.

England were in the ascendancy thereafter and might have grabbed the win late on as Beth Mead was foiled by Korean goalkeeper Yukyeong Min when one-on-one and then Nikita Parris thundered a 30-yard effort against the crossbar in added time.

England 1-1 South Korea

FIFA Women’s U20 World Cup
Group C
Wednesday 6 August 2014
Moncton Stadium, Canada

Marley said: “We are very happy because we know how difficult it is to get any points at a World Cup.

“The fact we have come back and got a point reflects the character in the team.

“We said to the players that one point was crucial and we might have nicked the win at the end with a bit more luck.

“Overall we are delighted with a point against top, top opposition.”

Marley was delighted with the way her side recovered from the early setback – and they came within a lick of paint of levelling virtually from the restart as Katie Zelem prodded Harris’s cross against the crossbar.

She added: “We know the group has got a lot of character so we just told everybody to settle, there was plenty of time left and that it wasn’t just about one game, it was about the whole competition.

“We had to settle down, do what we needed to do and go back to basics. And once we settled down we grew in confidence.”

In the build-up to the game, the former Everton boss attempted to dampen expectations surrounding her side’s chances.

England are the only side to have qualified for this year’s U19 Euros and U20 World Cup, meaning Marley’s pool of available players had to be split across two different squads – and 12 of the Young Lions in Canada were eligible for last month’s Euro Finals in Norway.

Marley said: “We shouldn’t expect too much from this group of players.

“We are almost three different age groups merged into one. We are realistic. The preparation has been intense and we know we are not as prepared as we would like to be because we haven’t had that much time together.

“But I think that performance, with such a short preparation time, was outstanding.

“Now, if the players can progress in the next few days at the same rate as they have been doing, I’d be enthused to think how far we can go.”

All four sides in Group C are level on one point each after Nigeria and Mexico also drew 1-1.

England face the Mexicans in Moncton on Saturday followed by a final group game against Nigeria in Edmonton next Wednesday.