35 min: Northern Ireland skipper Marissa Callaghan fouls Jill Scott and England get a free-kick on the right flank. Jordan Nobbs’ delivery to the near post is sublime, but Lauren Hemp skims her diving header wide.
33 min: Rebecca Holloway dispossesses Rachel Daly with an excellent tackle as the England winger cantered down the right flank. She’d been played in behind the NMorthern Ireland defence by Jill Scott, who capitalised on some poor Northern Ireland passing to win the ball in midfield. Northern Ireland clear the subsequent corner.
31 min: Another good cross from Lauren Hemp out on the left flank for England, but it’s a mite too high for Ellen White. She stretches every sinew as she tries to get her head to it.
GOAL! England 3-0 Northern Ireland (Bronze 29)
Lucy Bronze gets between two defenders to poke the ball home from close range after Lauren Hemp had squared it from the left. Atrocious defending from Northern Ireland.
28 min: Lucy Bronze sends a cross arcing into the Northern Ireland box and Becky Flaherty flaps at it. She just about does enough to prevent the ball dropping into the goal.
26 min: On a rare foray into the England half, Nadene Caldwell wins a free-kick for her side after being felled by Georgia Stanway. Nothing comes of it and England are soon back in possession.
GOAL! England 2-0 Northern Ireland (White 23)
Ellen White scores her second of the game and her 38th for England. She stabs home at the near post after making a lung-busting run into the penalty area to convert a Lucy Bronze cross from the right.
23 min: From a backpass, England goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck gets what I think is her first touch after a quarter of the game has elapsed.
22 min: On the touchline, Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels urges his charges to “relax”.
19 min: That goal was in the post and came from a Northern Ireland error. Not for the first time, they gave the ball away cheaply and Ellen White pounced to fire home.
GOAL! England 1-0 Northern Ireland (White 18)
England lead. Ellen White opens the scoring, putting England a goal up with a clinical finish.
17 min: Rachel Daly drills a cross into the Northern Ireland penalty area from the right flank. Sarah McFadden puts it out for a corner. Jill Scott gets on the end of the ensuing inswinger but sends it wide.
15 min: A Flaherty clearance into the win drops kindl;y for Jill Scott, who advances towards the edge of the Northern Ireland penalty area. England are completely dominant here, helped in no small part by Northern Ireland’s inability to win their midfield battles and keep the ball.
14 min: Northern Ireland goalkeeper Becky Flaherty tries to lump a backpass long but her kick into the stiff breeze means the ball doesn’t travel too far.
13 min: England’s Rachel Daly tries a shot from distance but slips as she connects with the ball. Her effort sails over the crossbar.
10 min: Northern Ireland are being kept on the back foot but are hanging in there for the time being. They keep playing the ball out from the back but aren’t particularly good at keeping possession of it.
9 min: An excellent save from Flaherty, who reacts quickly to save a strong downward header from Lucy Bronze on the edge of the six-yard box. Alex Greenwood played an excellent ball into the box from deep and the header was strong, but Flaherty displayed the reflexes of a ninja.
8 min: Becky Flaherty is called into action again, darting off her line to gather a through ball played into the path of Rachel Daly.
7 min: Relentless pressure from England, who have a strong wind at their back. They’re passing the ball around crisply, looking for an opening.
5 min: Northern Ireland get out of their own half for the first time but England are soon on the attack again. Ellen White is put through on goal by a lovely weighted pass from Jill Scott but Northern Ireland goalkeeper is quick off her line to smother the ball at her feet. A corner for England, from which nothing comes.
3 min: Lucy Bronze pings a cross into the Northern Ireland penalty, where Ellen White is unable to steer her header goalwards. She got a little nudge in the back from Julie Nelson, which didn’t help her cause. No penalty is forthcoming.
2 min: Early pressure from England. Rachel Daly plays the ball right and wide to Lucy Bronze, who is promptly dispossessed by Rebecca McFadden.
1 min: Jill Scott gets an early touch, marauding forward in England’s first match for almost a year.
England v Northern Ireland is go …
1 min: Northern Ireland get the ball rolling after both sets of players take a knee. Simone Magill does the honours.
The teams are out: There’s a strong wind blowing at St George’s Park as both sets of players emerge from the warmth of their respective dressing-rooms and line up for the National Anthems. Will they play God Save The Queen twice? No … just the once.
Pre-match presentation: Jill Scott is presented with a commemorative mounted jersey with the number 150 on the back ahead of kick-off.
England v Northern Ireland line-ups
England: Ellie Roebuck, Lucy Bronze, Alex Greenwood, Georgia Stanway, Steph Houghton, Leah WIl;liamson, Rachel Daly, Jill Scott, Ellen White, Jordan Nobbs, Lauren Hemp.
Northern Ireland: Becky Flaherty, Abbie Magee, Julie Nelson, Sarah McFadden, Rebecca Holloway, Chloe McCarron, Rachel Furness, Nadene Caldwell, Marissa Callaghan, Lauren Wade, Simone Magill.
Hege Riise: “As a coach, my style is to listen more than I speak,” England’s interim manager told a Fifa.com interviewer last year.
“I look to involve my players in decisions, to give them trust and also, I hope, some calmness to do their jobs. When I look back to the coaches who got the best out of me, I think I’m quite similar in my approach. I like close connections with my players, and to be open to chat – not only about coaching and football, but about everything.
“I feel like it’s my responsibility to bring something to each player I work with, and to develop them in some way. For me that’s what being a coach is. I’ve never had a problem relating to a player who doesn’t have the attributes I had as a player. Bringing out the best in players, whatever their skills are, is a challenge I really enjoy.”
Jill Scott wins her 150th cap today
The magnificent Mackem will skipper England on the milestone occasion of her 150th cap today. Suzy Wrack sat down with her for a chat in the build-up to today’s game.
International friendly: England v Northern Ireland
The plush England HQ of St George’s Park is the venue for England women’s first match in almost a year as they host their counterparts from Northern Ireland in a lunchtime friendly.
When last they gathered, England were managed by Phil Neville, who has since moved on to pastures new in Miami following a fairly mediocre and underwhelming spell in charge of England’s brave Lionesses, so today’s game marks the first appearance of interim coach Hege Riise in the technical area.
One of the best footballers of her generation, the 51-year-old Norwegian has been put in temporary charge of England until Neville’s successor, Sarina Wiegman, takes up the cudgels when her current contract with the Netherlands expires in the Autumn.
Today’s match is Northern Ireland’s only scheduled friendly between now and their Euro 2022 play-off against as yet unknown opposition in April, and will give their manager Kenny Shiels an excellent opportunity to run the rule over his side as they face comparatively stiff opposition. Kick-off in today’s game is at 12.30pm (GMT) but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.