Hemp the star of the show at Carrow Road as England are held by Spain
- Credit: PA
Norfolk’s Lauren Hemp said she couldn’t ask for more from her local fans after coming on as a substitute as England were held to a 0-0 draw against Spain in the Arnold Clark Cup.
The North Walsham player said it was unbelievable to be able to play at Carrow Road under such prestigious circumstances.
“It’s every kid’s dream to play for England and to be able to do that at a place I call home I couldn’t ask for more,” she told ITV 4.
Despite being full of praise for the fantastic atmosphere created by the local fans, Hemp thought there was more her side could have done to provide a better result for those attending.
“We were gutted with the end product,” she said. “We had loads of chances but we just couldn’t put them away today.”
The Manchester City forward said there were still aspects of the performance that she was happy with against the side that are highly tipped to win this year’s Euros.
“I think we’ve got a lot of positives to take away from that. They’ve got a fantastic team but we’ve done great against them,” she said.
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“Obviously it was a 0-0 draw but we’ll take the positives away and work on them. It’s still a process heading into the Euros.”
Hemp’s manager Sarina Wiegman was pleased with performance of her Norfolk superstar despite the pressures of performing in front of the home crowd.
“She was very unlucky to hit the post,” said Wiegman. “Her speed and her dribbles are so dangerous”
There were smiles too from goalkeeper Hannah Hampton who made her first senior start for England at Carrow Road.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” said Hampton. “I honestly don’t think I took the smile off my face from the moment I got told until now really.
“The game plan we had worked today you can see that. We have got a result against one of the top nations. We all go with what we get told and it’s going very well for us.”
England fended off a spirited Spain to earn their second draw of the Arnold Clark Cup.
Sarina Wiegman’s side was much changed from the team that drew 1-1 with the Olympic champions Canada on Thursday in Middlesborough; this included hometown hero Hemp starting from the bench.
Both teams were looking for their first win after both producing draws in their opening games with Canada and Germany.
It was a nervy start for both sides who last met in the 2020 edition of the She Believes Cup tournament in the US.
Both teams had their chances in the opening 45 minutes; a slightly wide shot from Jill Scott the best of the Lionesses chances whilst a finger-tip save from Hampton proved enough to keep out Lucia Garcia.
Chelsea’s Jess Carter’s interventions proved vital as the half went on, helping to keep out an increasingly brave Spanish side amidst jitters from goalkeeper Hannah Hampton in her senior maiden appearance.
There was another effort from England’s leading goalscorer Ellen White just before half time as she headed the ball wide during a good spell of pressure from the Lionesses. Despite this, the game remained goalless at half time.
Former Norwich City women player Hemp came on at the start of the second half, as a replacement for Arsenal’s Nikita Parris to a very warm approval from the Norwich crowd.
Only seconds after the restart she proved why she’s one of England’s best young players as she hit the post to give England a positive start to the second half.
Spain were quick to counter, piling on the pressure, but England continued in a positive manner with shots from Jordan Nobbs and Georgia Stanway coming close to opening the scoring.
The visitors became more clinical in the second half pushing England all the way. Some further key substitutions from Wiegman saw her side largely revert to the team that started against Canada. Despite these changes, the side was unable to find the dominance it had found in the opening game.
England remained bright throughout the second half continuing to force errors from the visitors but struggling to make it count in the final third.
Some late chances came from second half substitute Ella Toone and Spain’s Athenea failed to break the deadlock.
A challenge on Hemp helped to set up a free kick for Alex Greenwood but the Lionesses were unable to make the most of the opportunity. An excellent by debutant Hampton at the other end prevented a last minute concession as Spain went on the counter.
The visitors kept pushing England until the last with some key Hampton saves proving decisive in keeping the game goalless.
Norfolk hero Hemp was the final player to leave the pitch running round to greet the local fans who had gathered to see her long after her team mates had headed home.
England manager Wiegman was full of praise for her side despite the goalless draw.
“It’s good we play a team like Spain because they have developed over the years,” she said.
“We disturbed their style of play.
“I think the difference between Canada and today was that we lost a lot of possession. We kept up the good chances.”
The England manager said she remained positive ahead of this summer’s Euros.
“We want to win every game,” said Wiegman. “So that’s how we approach a game. We don’t win the Euros now. No one wins the Euros now. It’s just another stop on our way to the Euros.”
Despite freezing conditions and the remains of Storm Eunice over 14,000 fans made the trip to Carrow Road easily eclipsing the Lionesses previous tie in Norwich against Iceland in 2006.
England will head to the Molineux on Wednesday for their final match of the tournament against women’s football heavyweights Germany.