England 0-0 Wales
The Lionesses were left with Friday night frustration, as they were kept at bay by Wales on the South Coast.
Despite England’s domination in Southampton, Phil Neville’s first home match in charge ended in a 0-0 draw after a heroic performance by Welsh keeper Laura O’Sullivan.
The hosts controlled proceedings throughout but O’Sullivan put in a player of the match performance in the Red Dragons’ goal to earn her side a point which keeps them atop World Cup qualifying Group 1.
With 25,000 in the crowd at St. Mary’s, it was the Lionesses’ biggest home attendance outside Wembley, since the Euro 2005 opener against Finland.
And England were on top from the off, with Toni Duggan and Jordan Nobbs both forcing O’Sullivan to palm decent efforts behind. It was to prove a sign of things to come.
Fran Kirby, Houghton and substitute Melissa Lawley, on for Nikita Parris, all registered shots at goal early in the second half, as England picked up where they left off.
Another sub, Ellen White – who replaced Jodie Taylor – came close to continuing her purple patch in front of goal but her glancing header, from Bronze’s cross, bent just wide of the far post.
The Birmingham hotshot offered a lively presence up top and forced O’Sullivan into yet another excellent stop, this time with a powerful swivel-and-shot.
Neville introduced Arsenal striker Beth Mead for her senior team debut in an attempt to find that elusive goal, but the game’s next clear opportunity fell to a defender.
O’Sullivan was the game’s stand-out player but a rare loose punch, save from the one that inadvertently gave Rhiannon Roberts a bloodied nose, presented a late chance for Abbie McManus, but the 23-year-old snatched at the shot and the ball hit the side-netting.
As four added minutes were being announced, Kirby wound-up a last-ditch 20-yard curler, but the Wales No1 was once more in the way to repel and seal England's night of frustration.
The Lionesses are back in action next Tuesday when they take on Bosnia in Zenica in the first of four consecutive away qualifiers.
England (4-3-3): 1 Carly Telford (Chelsea); 2 Lucy Bronze (Lyon), 5 Steph Houghton (capt; Manchester City), 6 Abbie McManus (Manchester City), 3 Demi Stokes (Manchester City); 8 Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), 4 Keira Walsh (Manchester City), 10 Fran Kirby (Chelsea); 7 Nikita Parris (Manchester City), 9 Jodie Taylor (Seattle Reign), 11 Toni Duggan (Barcelona).
Substitutes: 17 Ellen White (Birmingham City) for Taylor 55, 15 Melissa Lawley (Manchester City) for Parris 55, 18 Beth Mead (Arsenal) for Duggan 80.
Substitutes not used: 13 Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), 12 Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), 14 Gabby George (Everton), 16 Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City).
Bookings: Houghton 25, McManus 29
Head coach: Phil Neville