Victoria spark for England’s Women

Jordan Nobbs and Steph Houghton applaud the fans after England Women's 4-0 defeat of Sweden at Hartlepool yesterday. Picture by Frank Reid
Jordan Nobbs and Steph Houghton applaud the fans after England Women's 4-0 defeat of Sweden at Hartlepool yesterday. Picture by Frank Reid
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JORDAN Nobbs hailed the atmosphere as “one of the best” she has experienced as England’s Women thrashed Sweden in a friendly at Hartlepool’s Victoria Park yesterday.

Hartlepool-born former Sunderland player Nobbs, daughter of Pools legend Keith Nobbs, returned home to play the full 90 minutes of an impressive 4-0 demolition of Sweden in front of a 4,547 crowd.

The Arsenal midfielder said: “Not to be biased, but I think it has been one of the best (atmospheres) I think the girls would tell you coming out it did feel really good.

“It felt lively, I think every attack you could hear the crowd which is something we want as players and that added maybe pressure but good pressure to try and score.”

The game was the first time the England Women’s team had played in the North East since they faced Italy at Roker Park in 1995.

Nobbs added: “Just to get England games all around the country is a plus for us anyway, but there was a great atmosphere out there and I think that definitely encouraged us as soon as we walked out,

“I think you could feel the vibe and I think that showed in our performance as well.”

England head coach Mark Sampson added: “We’ve really enjoyed it the crowd were brilliant.

“To get that number on a Sunday afternoon game and make that type of noise, the players just bounce off if it and that reflected in the way they celebrated the goals and how quick they were to go and thank the supporters at the end of the game.”

The talk prior to the game was of the five North East women internationals returning home – ex-Sunderland players Nobbs, Jill Scott, Demi Stokes, Lucy Bronze and skipper Steph Houghton.

After the thumping of Sweden, though, England have a new footballing darling in the shape of Fran Kirby.

The petite Reading ace’s debut was as good as she would have dreamed.

She was a perpetual menace and only the palms of Sweden’s goalkeepers Hedvig Lindahl and Carola Soberg denied her more than the one goal she richly deserved.

Sampson revelled in his star player’s performance, saying: “The longer the game went on, the more confident she got.

“She was up against world class defenders and she made sure that with the ball she caused them problems.

“She’s exciting, creative and gives us that composure in the final third.

“Her goal was justly deserved.”

England were on top from the start and the opener arrived on 34 minutes, albeit in controversial circumstances.

Nobbs provided the ammunition with a cross for Karen Carney. Felled, Carney won a penalty and scored the resulting spot-kick via a follow-up.

Carney bundled the ball home after her penalty rebounded off the post, but she was the first to react to the ball meaning she touched the ball twice before anyone else.

Ten minutes into the second half, Kirby picked a pass up from the left and stroked the ball beyond Soberg. If ever a debut goal was warranted then this was it.

Lianne Sanderson made light work of the minimal space afforded to her in the box before slotting home for 3-0, then Carney’s spectacular, swerving 25-yarder completed the scoring.

Ex-Sunderland keeper Carly Telford was an unused sub.