It was a chilly, sun-drenched February afternoon in north London, but Bethany England’s mind might have been focused on the prospect of a summer Down Under.
The Tottenham striker, who scored an emphatic first-half equaliser against former side Chelsea, after Jess Carter’s opener, is trying to work her way back into the Lionesses’ fold in time for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
It marked her second goal in as many league starts for Tottenham and was a timely reminder of her prowess in front of goal ahead of Sarina Wiegman’s England squad announcement on Tuesday.
But if Wiegman was indeed watching, the limelight had to be shared. Chelsea’s Lauren James proved again that she is England’s most dynamic attacking force at present, dancing between no less than five static Spurs shirts for her glorious 27th-minute goal.
This was another sub-par Chelsea performance, but they held out for a win that propelled them above league leaders Manchester United, who dropped points in their goalless stalemate against Everton.
For Tottenham’s England, 28, being outdone by her junior compatriot and former clubmate is no doubt a familiar feeling. In the first half of this season she made only two league starts for Chelsea as she fell behind James, Sam Kerr and Guro Reiten – scorer of the third goal here – in the pecking order.
England’s 58-goal haul in the Women’s Super League is fourth on the all-time list but, demoted to Kerr’s understudy in 2020, her ranking as a Lioness slipped, too. She did not play a single minute of last year's Euros, and was then left out of Wiegman's last two Lionesses squads in September and November.
With a World Cup on the horizon, 21-times capped England last month moved to Tottenham for more game time for a record £250,000 transfer between two WSL clubs, and her instant goalscoring form will no doubt catch Wiegman’s attention.
“There’s so much more than just scoring goals for me,” England said. “I have to prove that to Sarina and the England team, that if I do get picked, I'm worth being there.”
Tottenham manager Rehanne Skinner, who saw Nikola Karczewska set up a nervy finale for the visitors, thinks England’s stellar career is often overlooked and urged Wiegman not to rule her out. “I don’t think she gets enough credit,” Skinner said. “Her stats prove it for themselves.
"What she really needs is time on the pitch. We see straight away the goals she's scored in a short space of time. If you're playing well for your club, you have to be considered for your national team - it's as simple as that.”
Tottenham Hotspur (3-4-3) Korpela; Turner (Karczewska 77), Bartrip, Zadorsky; Neville, Summanen, Spence, Harrop; Bizet (Ayane 86), England, Iwabuchi (James 86).
Subs Ale, Ubogagu, Spencer (g).
Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Musovic; Charles (Perisset 60), Buchanan, Bright, Carter; Cuthbert (Cankovic 74), Ingle; James, Fleming (Kirby 61), Reiten (Rytting Kaneryd 80); Kerr (Leupolz 74).
Subs Mjelde, Abdullina, Berger (g).
Booked Buchanan, Cuthbert.
Referee Abigail Byrne.