England Women were beaten in the first of their four ‘Road to France Series’ World Cup warm-up matches as a late Christine Sinclair goal condemned them to a 1-0 defeat to Canada.
Canada captain Sinclair converted on the follow-up in the 81st minute of action at the Academy Stadium in Manchester, after Nichelle Prince’s shot had hit the bar, the 35-year-old registering her 180th international goal.
England, back in action after winning the invitational SheBelieves Cup for the first time last month, struggled to pose much of a threat in the first half until Nikita Parris brought a save out of Stephanie Labbe in the closing moments.
Our #RoadToFrance continues. Bring on 🇪🇸!
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— Lionesses (@Lionesses) April 5, 2019
With Phil Neville’s Lionesses looking more dangerous after the break, Toni Duggan shot narrowly wide and, at the other end, goalkeeper Karen Bardsley made a fine save to deny Janine Beckie before Sinclair boosted her incredible goal haul with the winner.
England, with six changes to their starting line up from the 3-0 win over Japan with which they clinched the SheBelieves Cup, won a couple of early corners and one was headed by Lucy Bronze towards Jodie Taylor, who diverted the ball wide from inside the six-yard box, but the flag was up for offside.
Most of the chances there were for the rest of the half fell to Canada, with the first seeing Prince crack an effort out of the ground in the 16th minute.
Sophie Schmidt curled wide, Prince’s strike was blocked by England skipper Steph Houghton, and Jessie Fleming skewed a shot off-target from a good position following a miscued attempt at a clearance by Rachel Daly.
England did go close just before the interval as Parris struck from the edge of the box and the diving Labbe turned the ball behind.
Duggan shot over shortly after the break, before Bardsley produced a fine save to keep out a strike from her City team-mate Beckie.
Karen Carney subsequently put one attempt onto the roof of the net and had another saved by Labbe, and after Bardsley dealt with a Schmidt effort, Duggan nearly broke the deadlock in the 59th minute as her shot went inches wide.
The pace dropped after that and the game was looking to be destined to finish goalless, but Canada then grabbed the lead as Prince rattled the bar and Sinclair controlled the loose ball before prodding in.
Demi Stokes shooting into the side-netting soon after was the closest England came to finding an equaliser.
Their next warm-up game ahead of the World Cup in France sees them take on Spain at Swindon Energy Check County Ground on Tuesday.