London 2012: Team GB women draw blank against Sweden

By Paul FletcherBBC Sport at Riverside Stadium

Team GB contested a goalless draw in their London 2012 warm-up game with Sweden as their first-ever fixture showed signs of encouragement but also suggested there is plenty to do if Hope Powell's team are to win a medal on their Olympic debut.

On the positive side, fit-again striker Kelly Smith went close with an audacious long-range lob and later slotted home from 14 yards, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.

Rachel Yankey, one of six substitutes introduced by Powell, almost broke the deadlock with a crisp left-foot strike that cannoned off the Swedish woodwork, while Stephanie Houghton, Kim Little and Karen Carney threatened from distance.

But Powell's team, who begin their Olympic campaign against New Zealand in Cardiff on Wednesday, also endured several nervous moments at the other end of the pitch.

Sweden, who finished third at last year's World Cup, are in a group along with Canada, South Africa and world champions Japan at the Games.

And even though Thomas Dennerby's side were without injured star striker Lotta Schelin, they nonetheless opened up Team GB often enough to suggest they can have a successful Olympics.

Several times Team GB's central defensive duo of skipper Casey Stoney and Ifeoma Dieke found themselves isolated against Sofia Jakobsson and Caroline Seger.

One was entirely Stoney's fault after she gifted possession to Jakobsson, who squared the ball to Seger only for her team-mate to shoot limply wide.

The Swedes often looked to hit quickly on the counter and Seger played Jakobsson through with a delightful pass but Karen Bardsley made a sharp save.

Bardsley also denied Kosovare Asllani from a tight angle while substitute keeper Rachel Brown, who came on at the start of the second half, denied Lisa Dahlkvist.

The match was in some ways a story of both hesitant defending and poor finishing. It was perhaps unsurprising then when a moment's indecision between Stoney and Brown was seized upon by Seger, but her weak effort was headed clear by Dieke.

The substitutions - six from each team - disrupted the pattern of the contest and it looked for a while as though Yankey's effort midway through the second half might be the last serious attempt at goal.

However, Carney - yet another substitute - earned a generous round of applause from a Riverside crowd that swelled throughout as the hours ticked down to the men's match against Brazil after she went close with another long-range lob.

And at the other end Seger might have nicked it for Sweden, but contrived to waste her opportunity from six yards in what was the most glaring miss of the contest.

Team GB coach Hope Powell: "I think we need to play with a bit more freedom. I learned that we have gelled in parts, but in the first half we played within ourselves. We were a little bit negative at times when we could have gone forward, final-third play, little things.

"By the girls' own admission they were a bit nervy, a bit negative going backwards and they recognised that and I think we did something about it in the second half.

"The final ball let us down every time and it's something we need to work on. I think it was a good advert, I hope it came across well, but we have to remember they are World Cup bronze medallists and they are a classy side. We have to remember who we were up against. We didn't lose the game and we did outplay them at times.

"It's our first time as Team GB and you will be nervous, what do you expect? But I'm sure they will rise to the occasion [at the Olympics]."

Sweden manager Thomas Dennerby: "We have struggled with our defending [recently] so we are happy about not letting any goals in, and we are satisfied as we were very compact.

"In the first half our attacking play wasn't the best, we were a little bit anxious and lost some easy passes, but the second half was much better and it was just around the GB box where we couldn't find any good solutions."

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