England women held 0-0 by Dutch in 2013 qualifier

By Tony Leighton Women's football correspondent
Fara Wiliams
Williams failed to find the net with the crucial second-half spot-kick

A missed penalty by Everton's Fara Williams proved costly as England had to settle for a 0-0 draw in their Euro 2013 qualifier with the Netherlands.

Williams' weakly-struck 50th minute spot-kick was comfortably saved.

The point extended England's unbeaten run in major qualifying tournaments to 29 games over the last nine years.

The Netherlands are still two points ahead in the group, which will almost certainly now be decided when the two teams meet in England in June.

England coach Hope Powell said: "We came to try to win the game, but we're happy that we're not going away having lost it," she said.

"We were unfortunate with the penalty and defensively we had to work hard, but in the end I was pleased with a point from a well-fought contest."

The early stages were certainly evenly contested, but the Netherlands began to get on top and went close to scoring when striker Manon Melis glanced a 15th-minute effort past the post.

A minute later right-winger Sylvia Smit had a low cross shot saved by goalkeeper Karen Bardsley.

England produced their only shot of the first-half in the 20th minute, but left-winger Rachel Yankey's 20-yard strike was comfortably stopped by keeper Loes Geurts.

At the other end Bardsley had to pull off another diving stop when Melis fired in a 30-yard drive just before the half-hour.

England's great chance to take the lead arrived when Williams, racing on to a Karen Carney through-ball, was brought down by Geurts.

The keeper was booked for the challenge, but she quickly made amends by diving to her left to keep out the spot-kick.

The let-off sparked Holland and after Melis had an angled drive stopped by Bardsley the keeper had to turn a 25-yard shot by Lieke Martens over the bar.

The closing stages brought more close calls for the England goal, Bardsley saving well from Kirsten van der Ven who then had a goalbound shot deflected over the bar.

Powell added: "It was important we didn't lose this game and the group is still very much open - it's all to play for."

England: Bardsley (New Jersey Sky Blue); A Scott (Boston Breakers), Bradley (Lincoln), Stoney (Lincoln), Unitt (Everton); J Scott (Everton), F Williams (Everton); Clarke (Lincoln) (Houghton (Arsenal) 46), Carney (Birmingham City), Yankey (Arsenal); White (Arsenal).

Booked: Williams 70

Substitutes not used: Chamberlain (Bristol Academy), Whelan (Everton), Bassett (Birmingham City), Susi (Birmingham City), Moore (Birmingham City), Aluko (New Jersey Sky Blue), R Williams (Birmingham City).

Booked: Geurts 50

Referee: Ms B Steinhaus (Germany)