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New Zealand 2 (Hearn 9, Green 70) Wales 0
Wales were beaten 2-0 by New Zealand in their opening match in the Matchworld Tournament at Saviese in Switzerland.
The final score was a fair reflection on the performance of the World Cup Finalists against a Welsh side that included a debut cap for Helen Bleazard of Bristol Academy.
In front of a crowd of some 500 people in the picturesque village of Saviese, New Zealand started quickly and took the lead after only nine minutes, when Wales failed to deal with a cross from the left that was headed-home by Kiwi centre forward Amber Hearn. The Wales marking had gone 'walkabout' and it set the tone for the rest of the first half, as the all-whites had a succession of corners from which they could have added several more goals.
Wales striker Gwennan Harries failed to last the first half and was substituted on the half hour as she continued her return to full fitness after missing the last few weeks of the season.
Debutant Helen Bleazard had a mixed first 45 minutes on the left side of the Welsh midfield as she tried to come to terms with the pace of international football. Jessica Fishlock was also frustrated for long periods in the first half as little fell her way. The New Zealanders were faster to the ball and used their possession well to start frequent attacks. Defender Ria Percival crossed well from the flank to set up any number of chances that were not taken by her forward for New Zealand.
A half-time pep talk by Wales coach, Jarmo Matikainen, seemed to have helped as the team in red showed new vigour in the opening twenty minutes and began to match their opponents in many areas of the pitch.
The killer blow came in the 70th minute when Wales conceded a free kick around five yards outside the penalty area. From the resulting free kick, full back Anna Green, shot over the wall and the ball ended up in the far corner of the net, beating Wales keeper Rhian Nokes, who will feel disappointed to have been beaten from some twenty yards out.
The final twenty minutes saw an even exchange between the two teams, as various substitutions were made. All-in-all it was a disappointing start, though it has to be said that New Zealand were well above Wales in the world rankings and so it would not be too much of a surprise with the final score.
Wales now face Denmark in Apples on Saturday afternoon in the second game, which will be the 100th senior women's international for Wales.
Wales: Rhian Nokes, Kylie Davies, Sophie Ingle, Sally Wade, Emma Jones, Nia Jones, Loren Dykes (sub Amie Lea 63mins), Helen Bleazard (sub Natasha Harding 63mins), Helen Lander (sub Hayley Ladd 87mins), Gwennan Harries (sub Cheryl Foster 29mins), Jessica Fishlock. Subs not used: Sophie Dando, Kerrie Manley, Lauren Price, Laura-May Walkley.
New Zealand: Jenny Bindon, Ria Percival (sub Katie Bowen 68mins), Anna Green, Katie Hoyle (sub Hayley Morwood 45mins), Abby Erceg, Rebecca Smith, Ali Riley, Amber Hearn (sub Annalie Longon 64mins), Sarah Gregorious (sub Rosie White 45mins), Betsy Hassett, Hannah Wilkinson (sub Emma Keate 45mins).
(Report by www.faw.org.uk)
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