England 0 United States 1 (Half-time 0-1)

England's women footballers were beaten by a goal from Alex Morgan yesterday, as the United States quashed their hopes of victory in their friendly match at Stadium MK. The USA team are among the sides tipped for success at this year's World Cup, so it was a good measure of how far Mark Sampson's squad have progressed under his watchful eye. Yet the Lionesses could not quite manage to claw their way back into the match, after succumbing to their opponents' first-half goal.

Throughout their qualifying campaign for the World Cup, England have seemingly scored goals at will, netting an impressive 52 goals in total.

They found the USA a much sterner test though, as they struggled to impose themselves on a strong side, and surrendered the bulk of the possession to their rivals. Despite a healthy 14,369 crowd at Milton Keynes, they failed to produce any real spark to their play until late on, when they were unfortunate to not grab themselves an equaliser.

Before that rally, the home side were largely insipid in their play and it was no great surprise when they fell behind to Morgan's header on 25 minutes. She met Lauren Holiday's cross perfectly to beat Karen Bardsley in goal and bag her 50th international strike. They were also somewhat lucky when Jill Scott's challenge on Christen Press only resulted in a corner, when the visitors thought that a penalty was in order.

USA were mainly undisturbed by the hosts' efforts on the night, but could almost have come undone themselves when Jodie Taylor had a goal controversially chalked off in the 56th minute, after a Fran Kirby shot had been touched on to the bar. Offside was given against the English before Taylor had prodded the ball into the net, yet replays suggested that the goal should have stood.

The United States almost doubled their lead on 75 minutes, when Morgan again tormented the home defence, but her goal bound shot was well saved by Bardsley.

England rang the changes late on, with five subs used in total on the night, but all to no avail as the States' side held their ground to the game's conclusion, despite some late England pressure.

Coach Sampson was justifiably unhappy with the offside decision afterwards, which denied his side what would have been a hard-earned draw. He believes that the team will get stronger once they move on from the pre-season shape they are clearly still in. Despite the lack of possession (70/30 in the visitor's favour), he was heartened by England's threat on the counter attack, adding another string to their bow perhaps, when the World Cup proper starts.

Sampson's side begin their World Cup competition in Canada against the French on 9th June, with plenty to work on between now and then. They also play Mexico and Colombia in the group, before the knock-out stages begin. Before that, they play in the Cyprus Cup next month and will be hoping to halt a run of defeats, after also losing their previous game to Germany back in November.