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England's Lawley down from stand to deliver

Melissa Lawley admitted that being suspended for England's first game had taught her a few things as she repaid Mo Marley's faith with Thursday's crucial opener against Wales.

Melissa Lawley (L) runs clear of Wales midfielder Rachel Hignett
Melissa Lawley (L) runs clear of Wales midfielder Rachel Hignett ©Sportsfile

Suspended for the first match, Melissa Lawley says watching from the stands gave her valuable insight into what she needed to do against Wales on Thursday – her crucial opening goal suggests she learned well.

"I was dying to get on as I was watching [the Denmark draw] with my suit on from the stands," said the 19-year-old. "Sitting there, I could see how we were playing, what we were doing well and what we weren't. Hopefully, when I got on to the pitch it helped us, in the end, to win the game. I'm not used to being suspended but I think it's done me some good."

Lawley's 63-minute goal certainly hinted as much. England were struggling to break down UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship hosts Wales, growing frustrated, when the left-sided attacker picked up the ball near halfway. With defenders backing off she saw her chance, driving forward before firing a crisp low shot inside the far post from the edge of the box.

"It was all about team-work," she said, a familiar refrain from the England camp. "We were passing it around and it got to me; even though I was quite far out my first thought was to score a goal because by then we needed a goal. Wales had been strong all game, hard to break down, but for once there was a gap and I saw it so I just thought 'go for it'. I ran and just shot. Fortunately it went in."

There did not seem to be a hint of luck about it; it was more the act of an alert forward taking her opportunity when it came. If Mo Marley ever had a moment's doubts about bringing a player ineligible for the first match, they were banished in an instant. Indeed, the England manager praised her all-round game, and the "fresh legs and different dimension" Lawley and the other new faces in the team brought.

Once the breakthrough was made it all became simpler for England as they went on to win 3-0 despite Nikita Parris denting the crossbar with an errant spot kick. "Wales were a very good team, hard to break down, but once we'd got one it got easier," explained Lawley, who was withdrawn eight minutes from time. "The whole team settled down and played like we can, passing and relaxing a bit more. It was really good to be out there."

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