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Injury time heartbreak for Wales
 Women's Football News 21 Sep 2009
 
Injury time heartbreak for Wales - 21 Sep 2009 - Women's Football NewsWales 0 Belgium 1 (Verelst 90)
Wales were dealt the cruellest of blows in their opening World Cup qualifying group match as Belgium snatched a winning goal with a mere six seconds of injury time remaining at Haverfordwest.
 
The goal was rough on a Welsh side which had overturned a disappointing first half performance into a rousing second half display on a perfect playing surface and in sunny conditions.
 
Captain Jayne Ludlow returned to the centre of midfield but Wales were also dealt a blow before kick off as Jessica Fishlock was ruled out of the starting line up with a thigh injury. Helen Lander also came back into the side in place of Cheryl Foster.
 
The opening stages of the game were quite cagey with Belgium having the greater of possession and Wales content to sit back and keep things tight. It wasn't until the seventeenth minute that the first opportunity came, a long ball over the top from Nikki De Cock picked out Kristel Verelst who struck a first time shot which was well saved by Rhian Nokes.
 
Belgium began to step up the pace with Marijke Callebaut firing a 20-yard shot over the bar and Femke Maes breaking into the area before her shot was blocked by a good challenge from Emma Jones.
 
Wales produced their first effort on goal when Ludlow headed a Gwennan Harries free kick straight at Sabrina Broos but Belgium continued to prompt, with Maes at the heart of matters, and they went close to taking the lead three minutes ahead of the interval as the lively Verelst hit the post from just inside the area.
 
Wales came into the game more from the restart and a good run down the left by Loren Dykes ended with a dangerous cross which Broos dealt with expertly as Lander closed in. Belgium hit back with Verelst wasting a good opportunity, sending a free header over the bar from a Lorca Vandeputte centre.
 
The introduction of Emma Plewa as substitute gave Wales a fresh injection of pace and the young striker almost made an instant impact after coming on. Ludlow clipped a fine ball over the Belgian defence to release Plewa on goal but she shot straight at Broos.
 
Harries was unlucky not to give Wales the lead with a dipping 25-yard volley which looked destined for the back of the net but Broos pulled off a brilliant save, tipping the ball onto the post before gratefully clutching the rebound.
 
Wales continued to carry the game to their opponents with Ludlow firing narrowly over the bar following a good run by Dykes, and a Harries corner was headed down by Nicola Cousins for Plewa who hooked a shot goalwards on the turn but the impressive Broos was well placed to save.
 
Belgium rallied and almost took the lead themselves as Maes played the ball beyond the far post for Majorie De Rammelaere whose angled shot brought out an excellent save from Nokes. Moments later Verelst stabbed the rebound wide after Nokes was unable to hold a long range effort from De Rammelaere.
 
Wales overcame a difficult spell and stayed strong at the back with Jones and Cousins having had very good matches in the centre. However it was to be a heartbreaking end as they went into the final minute of injury time and possession was naively given away. This allowed De Cock to play the ball over the Welsh defence and into the path of Verelst who neatly lobbed the oncoming Nokes to give her side a precious lead before being mobbed by her team mates.
 
Still there was a chance for Wales to level, albeit a difficult one as Harries tried to volley home a pass which came over her shoulder but she could only send her effort over the bar. The final whistle came moments later and a stunned Wales side were left to reflect on how they had ended up with nothing.
 
Wales: Rhian Nokes, Sally Wade, Lauren Townsend, Nicola Cousins, Emma Jones, Katie Daley, Loren Dykes, Jayne Ludlow, Helen Lander (sub Emma Plewa 66mins), Gwennan Harries, Michelle Green. Subs not used: Lauren Wells, Carla Parfitt, Kerrie Manley, Katie Williams, Jessica Fishlock, Cheryl Foster.

Belgium: Sabrina Broos, Hanne Van De Goor, Maud Coutereels (sub Marlies Verbruggen 70mins), Heleen Jaques, Lorca Vandeputte, Aline Zeler (sub Majorie De Rammelaere 66mins), Marijke Callebaut, Femka Maes, Kristel Verelst, Nikki De Cock, Anne Puttemans (sub Kristien Elsen 86mins). Subs not used: Veerie Willekens, Riete Loos, Sophie Mannaert, Lenie Onzia.

 
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