Alex Scott puts England success before milestone of her 100th cap

The landmark of a 100th England cap awaits Alex Scott on Monday but pride has been consumed by the threat of a fall.

There will be no cause for celebration should the Arsenal defender become a centurion while England's hopes of winning Women's Euro 2013 evaporate.

Friday's opening defeat by Spain was cruel in timing but troubling in nature for Hope Powell, with England offering a disjointed display and no complaints about the merits of the Spanish victory, their first in the fixture for 17 years. With France lying in wait in the final game in Group C, and confirming their status among the tournament favourites in a 3-1 defeat of Russia, England will almost certainly require three points against the Russians to preserve their qualification chances. That pressure has sapped Scott's satisfaction from her own personal milestone. Only a win on Monday can restore it.

"Getting 100 caps is not at the front of my mind after the Spain game," said the England right-back. "For me, Monday is just about needing a win, not whether it is my 100th cap or not. And it is only my 100th cap if selected. Just because I'm on 99 caps doesn't mean my place is guaranteed on Monday. I'd rather a win over Russia than the whole thing about reaching 100 caps because if we don't win we know we will be going home. It is a hard one going into this game because obviously it might be a very proud moment but all I want is to win the game, that is the main thing."

The 28-year-old made her England debut nine years ago and is featuring in her third successive European Championship. Consolation was thin on the ground after the 3-2 defeat to Spain but this is not uncharted territory for Scott and several members of the England squad. At Euro 2009 England lost their opening game to an outsider, Italy, faced Russia in their second group game, went 2-0 down after 20 minutes, won 3-2 and went on to reach the final. All three England goalscorers that day – Karen Carney, Eniola Aluko and Kelly Smith – remain in Powell's squad.

Scott admits: "We've been in this situation before so the panic is not setting in yet. We know we have to get a result on Monday, it's a must-win game for us and sometimes with England we like to do it the hard way. Exactly the same thing happened in 2009 and though we beat Russia in 2009 they are a different team now and it isn't going to be easy. This England team never do things the easy way. I don't know why we like to do it this way, maybe when our backs are against the wall we all step up and perform."

Powell and her squad dissected the Spain performance at their Linkoping base on Saturday and, while needing to move on, the torment of those final five minutes lingers. The Birmingham captain, Laura Bassett, thought she had marked her first start at a tournament with the rescue act of an 89th-minute equaliser, her first England goal, only for the goalkeeper Karen Bardsley's own goal to follow five minutes later.

The England defender, who impressed in the absence of the injured Sophie Bradley, said: "We all thought it was going to be OK when my goal went in. We just had to take a deep breath and focus, we wanted to take the game to Spain when they were vulnerable, but then a moment of madness cost us. When the ball crossed the line it genuinely felt as though someone had punched me in the stomach. We have everything in this squad – courage, strength and determination – and we know we can always come back, but to throw it away like that was so disappointing."

Powered by article was written by Andy Hunter, for The Observer on Saturday 13th July 2013 22.57 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


image: © Ben Sutherland

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