Stoney’s delight

England goalscorer Casey Stoney congratulated her team-mates after they held on to beat Ukraine 2-1 and leave themselves on the verge of qualification for the 2015 World Cup.

The 32-year-old, making her first start under head coach Mark Sampson, broke the deadlock with a tenth minute header.

Eniola Aluko doubled the lead shortly after to give England a 2-0 lead at half-time.

Ukraine 1-2 England

2015 Women’s World Cup Qualifier

Group 6 

Arena Lviv 

Thursday 19 June

The hosts improved after the break and halved the deficit through Olha Ovdiychuk, but England hung on to move within one point of reaching Canada 2015.

Stoney said: “It’s always hard to come away and play against Ukraine, in a nice stadium with a lively crowd and an unbelievable atmosphere.

“On a personal level it was great to be back out there playing again but more importantly it was fantastic to get three points.

“We showed really good character in the second half. We might not have performed as well as we’d like to have done after half-time but we knew the job was to come here and get the win and we did that.”

Stoney’s goal, from Fara Williams’s corner, was just her sixth in 117 appearances and although she admitted her delight at getting on the score sheet, the Arsenal said she was frustrated to have conceded – the first goal England have let in during this qualifying campaign.

Stoney added: “It’s always nice to score, especially because I don’t get many, but it was all credit to Steph Houghton for winning the first header. I ran over to the bench because I wanted to make it a real team celebration.

Casey Stoney competes for possession with Ukraine

Casey Stoney out jumps Ukraine’s Tetyana Romanenko

“Every team works a lot on set pieces so it’s nice when all that work pays off.

“But we are disappointed as a defence to have conceded because we set our standards so high

“If you look at it, though, we’ve conceded one goal in eight games so you can’t be disappointed with that. I also thought Ukraine were much better than when we last played them.

“They had a lot more going forward than they usually do. They really went for it and I think we defended well on the whole. We conceded from a set piece so we just need to tidy up on that but overall we can be pleased.”

All thoughts are now on the penultimate qualifier in Wales on 21 August, where a draw would be good enough to qualify for the World Cup.

England have won all eight Group 6 matches so far and Stoney is determined to make it nine from nine.

“That’s a massive one point. We go to Wales next and we’ll go there for all three, as we always do.”

She continued: “It was great to be back out there playing my part. Hopefully I’ve put myself back in the manager’s thoughts.

“In saying that, the girls have done fantastically well in the games before. I think the competition for places is really healthy. This is a strong squad and a great squad to be a part of.”