Marcus Braddock previews tonight's Women’s World Cup qualifier
With the Football league season only just finished, it's time to look to the International calendar and the visit of the England Women’s team. So far in their World Cup qualification matches, England have a 100% record with five wins from five games and are also five points clear of their nearest rival Wales. Ukraine have played fewer games than England but they are also undefeated with two wins and a draw. When it comes to goals, England have been in rampant form with 29 scored and five clean sheets which has to make the Lionesses firm favourites to take the three points. Ukraine have scored six times and have conceded two, with their last match being a 1-1 draw away to Wales.
In the absence of Toni Duggan who has scored eight goals in five games, Eni Aluko is the second highest scorer with five goals in five games. The 27 year old is currently in her second spell with Chelsea having signed from Birmingham in January. Her career is a well travelled one which has included two spells with Birmingham, and three seasons in America. A quickly skilful forward, Aluko likes to take on opponents and has a goal ratio of just under a goal every four games.
Mark Sampson is quite young for an international coach but he's more than qualified for the job after five years with Bristol Academy. In those five years, Sampson took his team to two F.A. Cup finals and twice qualified for Europe with a budget much lower than most other clubs. He's also worked under Everton manager Roberto Martinez having spent time with Swansea City as manager of their Centre of Excellence. He replaced Hope Powell at the beginning of December last year and he has done very well so far with a 9-0 win over Montenegro in his first game.
Manchester City's Toni Duggan will miss out because of knee injury and Birmingham City's Karen Carney is ruled out because of a back complaint. England coach Mark Sampson has drafted in Carney’s Birmingham team-mate Remi Allen to replace her and Notts County midfielder Dunia Susi to replace Duggan.
As ever, my prediction will be a positive one and this time there is good reason. England have been in great form all over the pitch, with goals a plenty and those five clean sheets to go with them. You would have to be a very optimistic Ukraine supporter to see anything other than an England win if you base your decision on form alone. But by all accounts, Ukraine are going to be England’s biggest test so far. A tight and physical side that gives no ground easily, so this may not be a goal-fest but I still think England have got enough to take the three points. A 2-0 win to England!
Tickets for the game are priced at £5 for adults and £2.50 for children and are available from www.shrewsshop.com or 01743 273 943. A family ticket is also available at £10 (two adults and two children) and fans can also buy tickets on the day from Shrewsbury Town FC ticket office.
Ticket collections are from the ticket booth which will be located just outside the ticket office.