Neither side produced a real goal threat until England captain Fara Williams had a low 12-yard shot well saved by goalkeeper Heidi Johansen on the half hour.
Karen Bardsley, making an impressive debut in place of Brown, made comfortable saves from winger Katrine Veje either side of half time.
Left winger Sue Smith should have given England a 72nd-minute lead shot wide after substitute keeper Tine Viskaer had parried a Williams shot.
And nine minutes later Williams, free on the left, screwed an angled 15-yard drive well wide of the far post.
But Handley finally grabbed a deserved winner for the home side when she neatly deflected right winger Karen Carney's cross-cum-shot into the roof of the net.
Powell added: "In patches we played quite well and we definitely deserved something out of the game, so it was nice to finish with a win."
England: Bardsley (New York Sky Blue); A. Scott (Boston Breakers), Johnson (Everton), Asante (New York Sky Blue), Stoney (Chelsea); Chapman (Arsenal), J. Scott (Everton) (Westwood (Everton) 90); F. Williams (Everton); Carney (Chicago Red Stars), Sanderson (Chelsea) (Handley (Everton) HT), S. Smith (Leeds Carnegie).
Denmark: Johansen (Viskaer HT); Bjerg, M. Jensen, K. Pedersen, Hansen; Larsen; Veje (Rasmussen 73), Nielsen (M. Pedersen 90), Christiansen (Madsen 88), Nadim; Pape (R. Jensen HT).
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