Aggie Beever-Jones + Jess Naz, England U23s

England’s U23s suffered their first loss since October 2022, falling too a 3-1 defeat to Spain. Aggie Beever-Jones gave the Young Lionesses the lead but Spain hit back through Olhane Valdezate and a Bruna Vilamala brace.

The Action

The Young Lionesses started strongly in the Marbella sunshine, buoyed on by the watching Sarina Wiegman and senior England team.

The first half belonged to England with Ruby Mace dominating the midfield area and the running of Katie Robinson and Jess Naz stretching the Spanish full-backs. Chelsea’s Beever-Jones was leading the line and rattled the crossbar with a header early on before Mace was denied from distance by Adriana Nanclares.

Spain’s best chances, on the other hand, came through English errors at the back. Inmaculada Gabarro was presented with a good opportunity but she sliced a half-volley wide before being denied by a smart stop from Fran Stenson.

Emma Coates’ side broke the deadlock with three minutes left to play in the first half when Naz pounced on a loose ball. The Spurs winger unselfishly squared it to Beever-Jones to tap home. Their lead lasted just two minutes, however, with Valdezate converting a corner that was not dealt with.

With Beever-Jones and Naomi Layzell coming off at the break, England looked a changed outfit in the second half and they struggled to reach the same intensity. With Spain in the ascendancy, Stenson managed to keep the score level when she saved Gabarro’s penalty but it wasn’t long before the Spanish had their noses in front. Vilamala pounced on England’s defensive hestitation and broke almost to the by-line before angling a low shot home. It was Vilamala again who made sure of the victory in the final minutes with a curling half-volley from just inside the box.

 

Aggie Beever-Jones, England U23s

 

Stand Out Moment

Spain’s final goal was the best of the game, a well struck finish from Vilamala that nestled into the top corner with Stenson at full stretch.

 

England’s Stand Out Performer

Ruby Mace’s performance was key to England, particularly in the first half. Sitting in the six, she acted as a screen for the defence whilst dictating the tempo going forward. Strong in the challenge, she pressed Spain well, particularly in the first half, and pushed forward to help her attacking players. She almost had a goal herself but was denied in the first half by a good save. She did struggle to affect the game in the same way as it went on, perhaps her lack of domestic minutes for Manchester City recently becoming a factor.

 

Quote of the Day

 

“We started really well and we can be proud of that. But it was a disappointing way to end the game. We’ll go away and look at what we can do better… We went a little bit flat. Maybe some of out passages of play weren’t as good in the second half and that’s something that we really need to go away and look at.”

Katie Robinson, England U23s

 

Teams

SPAIN

Adriana Nanclares; Nerea Nevado; Ana Tejada; Oihane Valdezate; Paula Arana; Inmaculada Gabarro; Bruna Vilamala; Clara Pinedo; Itziar Pinillos (c); Claudia Iglesias; Elena Julve

Subs: Sandra Estevez; Sonia Garcia; Teresa Merida; Aida Esteve; Xenia Perez; Paola Hernandez; Ariana Arias; Ane Elexpuru; Ascension Martinez; Alejandra Bernabe; Mirari Uria; Malena Mieres

Manager: Laura Del Rio

 

ENGLAND

Fran Stenson; Anouk Denton, Naomi Layzell, Kiera Skeels, Freya Gregory; Ruby Mace; Missy Bo Kearns, Molly Pike; Katie Robinson, Aggie Beever-Jones, Jessica Naz

Subs: Poppy Pattinson, Lucy Thomas, Ebony Salmon, Ella Morris, Mia Ross, Lucia Kendall, Missy Goodwin, Shannon O’Brien, Hannah Silcock, Ruby Grant, Laura Blindkilde Brown, Tara Bourne

Manager: Emma Coates

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