Rachel raring to go for Lionesses after FA Cup Final disappointment

Busy time Rachel Brown will travel to Eastern Europe next week with England after her FA Cup Final disappointment on Sunday
Busy time Rachel Brown will travel to Eastern Europe next week with England after her FA Cup Final disappointment on Sunday
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Rachel Brown-Finnis’ disappointment at Sunday’s FA Women’s Cup Final defeat was tempered by an England call-up on Tuesday.

Burnley-born Rachel was in the Everton side which lost 2-0 to Arsenal in front of over 15,000 at Stadium:MK on Sunday.

But two days later she was preparing for two crunch World Cup qualifiers next week after making the cut for Mark Sampson’s 23-strong squad.

England travel to Minsk to face Belarus a week tomorrow, before moving on to Lviv to take on Ukraine, hoping to maintain their 100% record on the road to Canada 2015 as they top Group 6 by five points from nearest rivals Wales.

Looking back on Sunday, Rachel said: “It was a long journey home, we got stuck in traffic and we were thinking ‘can this day get any worse?!’

“Initially I was down, but I watched the game back as soon as I got home and reflected on it, and took some positives - you have to move on.

“We had an early chance through Nikita (Parris) after carving them open, and had that gone in, it would have given the girls real belief.

“As it was, some of the commentators said we lacked self belief, and I have to say it looked like that.

“There was a bit of naivety and a lack of experience at times, and the free kick for Arsenal’s first goal was an example of that.

“We did ourselves no favours there - you can’t give someone like Kelly Smith, who has been second in the World Player of the Year, England’s main hope, and is back on form, a chance like that.

“She was awesome on Sunday.”

She added: “In the second half we looked sapped of energy, the gap between the midfield and forwards was too big, and we didn’t cope with Arsenal changing to two up front.

“For those towards the end of their careers, like myself, we’ve been in finals before and seen the highs and lows.

“But it was some of the girls’ first experience, and once you’ve been a runner-up and seen another team celebrating, you know how much you want to get there again and win it, given the chance.

“But I’m proud of the girls for getting there - no-one gave us a chance after losing a few senior England internationals over the last couple of years.

“We can take a lot from our performances in the quarter and semi-finals where we beat top teams from the WSL.”

Rachel’s form has seen her retain her place in the England squad, as she looks to add to her 82 caps for her country in an international career spanning 17 years.

But despite making a number of fine interventions on Sunday - the pick being a superb stop from Japanese star Shinobu Ohno - her performance couldn’t mask her disappointment at losing the final: “It was probably one of my busiest games of the season - Arsenal were relentless.

“I kept a calm head and managed to pull off the odd save, but I felt my distribution could have been better.

“But my game wasn’t of interest, it was all about the team.”

She now turns her attentions towards Lionesses duty, having retained her place in the squad after it was cut from 29 players to 23 on Tuesday.

Manchester City keeper Karen Bardsley returned to the squad following injury, but Notts County’s Carly Telford made way from the initial four-strong goalkeeping pool.

Rachel said: “We’ve got a new manager, after the reign of Hope Powell, and from what he’s said he goes on form, and he’s proved that with his selections so far.

“He’s been true to his word.

“I’ve been really pleased with my performances in most of the games I’ve played so far this season.

“These are important World Cup qualifiers straight after the final, we meet up on Tuesday for the qualifiers in Belarus and Ukraine, and I feel I can still be of benefit to the England team.”

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