England defenders to face off in FA Cup semi-final

Leah Williamson and Millie Bright will be on opposite sides as Arsenal take on Chelsea

Thursday, 14th April — By Catherine Etoe

Leah Williamson IMG_6146

Leah Williamson (left)

THEY marshalled England’s defence together as captain and vice-captain in a crucial World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland at a packed Windsor Park on Tuesday.

But on Sunday lunchtime, Leah Williamson and Millie Bright will be on opposite sides as Arsenal and Chelsea go toe-to-toe in the FA Cup semi-final at Meadow Park and live on BBC 2.

The two players, aged 25 and 28, were handed their new leadership roles by England boss Sarina Wiegman ahead of two qualifiers this week.

Both would get to wear the armband, with concussion protocols meaning Williamson had to miss out on England’s 10-0 win over North Macedonia on Friday.

Clubmate Beth Mead missed very little, though, hitting four goals and an assist in a player-of-the-match performance in Skopje.

Williamson made it back in time to lead England out against Northern Ireland, and beforehand she spoke of the influence on her career of Arsenal skipper Kim Little.

“Kim’s an incredible leader and person,” she said.

“We’re very different, but there’s definitely things I’ve learned from her and will continue to do so.”

Williamson went on to play her part in England’s third goal as the visitors overwhelmed Northern Ireland 5-0 in front of 15,348 fans.

That was a record crowd for a modern day women’s match in Northern Ireland. New standards were also set for a competitive women’s match in Scotland as 7,804 fans turned out on a rainy night in Glasgow for the visit of Spain to Hampden Park.

Arsenal defender and Scotland vice-captain Jen Beattie got a runout in that qualifier, which table-topping Spain won 2-0. Second-placed Scotland are now aiming for a play-off place in their bid to reach the 2023 World Cup.

Over in Gothenburg, it was a good night for Arsenal defender and Republic of Ireland skipper Katie McCabe, who scored in a remarkable 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw with Sweden in front of more than 12,000 spectators.

For their part, England are within touching distance of qualification, topping their group having scored 68 goals and conceded none with two games to go.

Meanwhile, Spurs boss Rehanne Skinner has signed a new contract that will keep her at the club until 2024.

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