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Page last updated at 16:26 GMT, Wednesday, 24 February 2010

England women 1-0 South Africa women

By Tony Leighton

Jill Scott
Sunderland-born Scott made her England women debut in 2006

Jill Scott's early goal gave England women a winning start to their Cyprus Cup campaign as they beat South Africa.

But as England bid to retain the trophy they won for the first time last year, Hope Powell's team gave an uninspiring display in their opening group match.

England went ahead after five minutes when Everton midfielder Scott got the last touch after striker Jody Handley's cross had led to a defensive mix-up.

Sue Smith hit the post with a cross but England lacked a cutting edge.

The England women swept aside the South Africans in a 6-0 win at the group stage of last year's tournament, but never looked like approaching that scoreline.

South Africa edged the possession in the first half without creating any clear-cut goalscoring opportunities.

After Smith's cross from the left struck the far post she went close with an acrobatic effort that flew narrowly wide following a cross by winger Jess Clarke.

The two Leeds Carnegie wingers combined well again on a couple of occasions but first Smith then Clarke failed to finish.

England's best move of the match ended with midfielder Emily Westwood unluckily shooting just wide 13 minutes from time.

But in the closing stages they were inept and Powell will insist on an improved display against Canada in Friday's second group game.

They beat the Canadians 3-1 in last year's final, but Powell said: "We've got a few things to work on and we'll have to be better than this to get a result.

"Credit to South Africa, they've improved dramatically since last year and they gave us a much harder game.

"They were better than us in the first half and our goal was a lucky one, but we did improve and we were the better side in the second half.

"By our own standards though, it was a poor performance overall and the players know they will have to do better than this."

England: Brown (Everton) (Chamberlain (Chelsea) HT); Susi (Chelsea), White (Arsenal) (Unitt (Everton) 67), Johnson (Everton), Stoney (Chelsea); J. Scott (Everton), Buet (Chelsea) (Bassett (Leeds Carnegie) 58); Westwood (Everton); Clarke (Leeds Carnegie) (Yankey (Arsenal) 76), Handley (Everton), S. Smith (Leeds Carnegie).

Substitutes: A. Scott (Boston Breakers), Williams (Everton), Sanderson (Philadelphia Independence).

Friday's match against Canada was postponed because of a waterlogged pitch and will now be played on Saturday.

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see also
Yankey back for England's women
08 Feb 10 |  Women
Powell open to men's coaching job
10 Dec 09 |  Women
England coach Powell looks back on 2009
12 Dec 09 |  Football
Everton & Arsenal progress in Cup
07 Feb 10 |  Women

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