Proud moment for England Lionesses Beth Mead at the Riverside

From the stands to the pitch: Middlesbrough supporter England's Beth Mead, left, takes on Brazil's Feitoza Kathellen at the Riverside Stadium.
From the stands to the pitch: Middlesbrough supporter England's Beth Mead, left, takes on Brazil's Feitoza Kathellen at the Riverside Stadium.
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Whitby-born Beth Mead has gone from watching the action from the stands at the Riverside Stadium to walking out in front of almost 30,000 people.

The Arsenal forward played the full 90 minutes as the England Lionesses suffered a frustrating defeat against Brazil in Middlesbrough on Saturday.

However, the loss did little to take away from the incredible support off the field as the 29,238-strong crowd broke the record for a Lionesses home game outside of Wembley Stadium.

Mead began her playing career in Middlesbrough at the age of 10 before moving further north to Sunderland when she was 16.

The 24-year-old studied at Teeside University and admits that Middlesbrough holds a special place in her heart.

“It is amazing and that is why we have called to get some games up in the north-east,” she said of the support for the women’s side on Saturday afternoon.

“It was a great crowd and a great atmosphere.

“I owe a lot to my time in Middlesbrough, on and off the field, at university. It holds a big place in my heart and the reception I got today was amazing and it was a really enjoyable game for me, apart from losing.”

Mead added: “When I walked out on the pitch, I said to the girls that I used to sit behind the goal with my uncle and watch the games.

“It was special for me to play here and special for my family to watch me play here, considering I used to be the little girl sat in the stands.”

The record crowd watched on as England missed chance after chance in a wasteful first 45 minutes. Mead almost scored a brilliant goal in her adopted hometown as she brought the ball down before dribbling past Oliveira Giovanna and Feitoza Kathellen.

She only had Barbosa Barbara to beat but curled her effort around the far post. Mead was deployed on the left of an attacking three behind striker Jodie Taylor.

Jordan Nobbs – making her first England appearance since suffering an ACL injury 10 months ago – played directly behind the striker while Nikita Parris provided a threat on the right.

“I should have scored it, I probably did all the hard work instead of putting it in the back of the net,” admitted Mead.

“I enjoyed my role, I had quite a free role today.”

Taylor had the best chance of the first half as Brazil failed to deal with Parris’s through ball but the No 9 chipped her effort over the bar from a great position.

Mead was also denied an assist in her home county when her cross was scrambled home by Taylor but the offside flag was raised to deny England the lead.

Brazil were swift to punish the hosts and Debinha found herself free in the area to head home early in the second half, squeezing the ball under Mary Earps, who will have been disappointed to concede.

Debinha added a second midway through the half, her shot bouncing off the turf and looping over Earps.

England needed to do something special to beat Barbara, who had made a string of super saves to keep the Lionesses scoreless.

Substitute Bethany England provided the much-needed moment of magic as her looping header from Steph Houghton’s diagonal ball was met with a huge roar as it nestled in the back of the net.

The Lionesses pushed for an equaliser in the final 10 minutes but it never came as England went five games without a win for the first time since 2013 – a run that led to the sacking of Hope Powell, who had been in charge of the women’s side for 15 years.

“It is frustrating. I thought we were the better team and deserved the win,” insisted Mead.

“But it is a game of chances and they had two and scored them.

“We had a lot in the first half, myself included, and we should have put the chances away. We probably could have had the game dead at half-time.”

England: Earps; Bronze, Houghton, Williamson, Greenwood; Walsh, Scott; Nobbs (Daly 58), Parris (Stainforth 74), Mead; Taylor (England 74). Unused substitutes: Telford, Roebuck, Mannion, Bonner, Lawley.

Brazil: Barbara; Giovanna (Monica 45), Erika, Kathellen, Tamires; Debinha, Forminga (Thaisa 71), Luana (Victoria Kristine 87), Marta (Maria 45); Chu (Ludmila 45), Beatriz (Milene 71). Unused substitutes: Aline, Leticia, Poliana, Bruna Beatriz, Andressa, Daiane.

Referee: R Hussein (Germany).