One of our loyal readers referred to me as an “old git” for the position I have taken – and others on the Rust – on women’s football. So I watched the semi-final last night with a calm, objective eye.
The control of the ball by both sides showed a high level of technique, the ball was played out of defence on the ground and never hoofed, there was some exciting wing play and crossing, but some of the elements we look for in a football match, notably the strong physical challenge were missing.
The England keeper Carly Telford was poor. A top international keeper has presence, seemingly filling up the goal and scaring the opposition like Peter Schmeichel. Carly Telford stayed on her line and flapped at the ball.
With the cricket side stumbling to qualification for the semis and the under-21 side failing to beat Croatia, there was some hope that the women might bring home an international trophy but it was not to be …
Unless there is glaring error I’m prepared to accept the odd marginal offside decision not given as part and parcel of the game. England striker Ellen White was only marginally offside but VAR overruled the decision.
So we had a celebration and then a wait.
In any event USA were the stronger unit and deserved their win. I wondered if coach Phil Neville would give the downcast players a hug after the whistle, a familiar gesture of consolation particularly with any England team but it was just a pat on the shoulder.
The Lionesses had acquitted themselves well, inspired other women to play the game but I still feel the blanket coverage on Radio 5 is unjustified.
This morning Radio 5 led off with the defeat and even the sport bulletins gave little coverage to the England v New Zealand match. The one that did failed to mention that New Zealand will still qualify even if they lose as they have a superior run rate to Pakistan.