England were eventually able to overcome a committed and resilient Northern Ireland thanks to a fifteen minute hat-trick from Arsenal’s Beth Mead at Wembley Stadium in front of a crowd of 23,225.
The two sides last encountered each other at St Georges Park in a behind closed doors friendly match which was won 6-0 by England. Since then Kenny Shiel’s side secured qualification for next summer’s Euro’s and they came into this match on the back of an impressive unbeaten run.
Sarina Wiegman’s England side dominated the first half but some great work from the Northern Ireland defence, especially Glentoran’s Jackie Burns in goal.
Alex Greenwood had the best chance of the first half but her fantastic strike was denied by the crossbar.
Mead and Beth England joined the game just after the hour in place of Nikita Parris and Rachel Daly.
Mead took no time in breaking the deadlock. Beth England scored the second, reminding everyone that she is still a force to be reckoned with despite finding minutes hard to come by at her club.
Mead followed that up with two further goals in the 74th and 78th minutes.
Shiel’s side can be proud of their development in such a short space of time and as a fan of the great work going on within the camp, it gives me confidence that they can make an impact with next summer’s Euro’s.
After the game Weigman said, “I’m really happy for the team that she scored three goals, and for her especially. The players feel comfortable so players can shine. She [Mead] started shining when she came on so did a really good job.
“Today was a pretty hard game but we are working together, feeling good and we just want to go forward and forward.”
“She’s in a very good place at the moment and it’s obvious she is a good footballer. She feels really good and showed that on the pitch and does in training and with Arsenal,” Wiegman added.
England: Mary Earps, Rachel Daly, Millie Bright, Alex Greenwood, Demi Stokes, Fran Kirby, Leah Williamson (captain), Ella Toone, Nikita Parris, Ellen White, Lauren Hemp.
Substitutes: Sandy MacIver (GK), Hannah Hampton (GK), Niamh Charles, Keira Walsh, Georgia Stanway, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Beth Mead, Lucy Staniforth, Bethany England, Jill Scott, Alessia Russo, Jessica Carter.
Northern Ireland: Jackie Burns, Rebecca McKenna, Demi Vance, Sarah McFadden, Julie Nelson, Marissa Callaghan (captain), Chloe McCarron, Caragh Hamilton, Kelsie Burrows, Rachel Furness, Lauren Wade.
Substitutes: (used) Kirsty McGuinness, Ciara Watling, Louise McDaniel, Kerry Beattie, Emily Wilson (unused) Becky Flaherty (GK), Maddy Harvey-Clifford (GK), Rachel McLaren, Nadene Caldwell, Laura Rafferty, Joely Andrews.