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Wales Under-19 0 Belgium Under-19 0
The Wales Under-19 team played the first of two friendlies against their Belgian counterparts at Port Talbot on Tuesday.
Although neither side could score, it was a competitive and enjoyable encounter with each side dominating one half and hitting the woodwork. The Belgians start the better but Wales stepped up after the break and Ellie Curson went closest to giving the hosts a win.
An amazing miss allowed Wales to remain on terms early on. Maria-Laura Aga curled a shot against the bar from 25 yards and the ball rebounded to Charlotte Laridon eight yards out. The Club Brugge KV striker drove the ball against the bar again with the goal gaping.
Wales nearly made them pay immediately for this miss when Rachel Hignett forced a good save from Chloe Bellavia. The visitors were quicker and sharper in their build ups at this stage but were mainly restricted to long range efforts which flew over or wide of Yvette Churchill's goal. The one
time the Bristol Academy keeper was beaten from close range, Lauren Price got back to clear off the line on 33 minutes.
Two half time substitutions gave Wales a greater threat up front. Shanelle Edwards of Cardiff City was able to get clear of the Belgian defence on several occasions and Curson of Bristol Academy's WSL squad was busy in midfield. With the whole team much quicker to close their opponents down, the Belgians were no longer free to construct flowing attacks.
It was Curson, who rattled the upright with a 25-yard snap shot on the hour, who came the closest but Wales forced Bellavia into a couple of good saves and pressed for most of the half. Even so, the
visitors forced Churchill into a fine save when she raced from her line to make a last ditch tackle outside the area from an underhit back pass.
The match ended with the Belgian team pressing but a final corner was cleared and a just result was achieved.
The teams will reconvene at Treforest on Thursday morning hoping to break the stalemate and provide similarly entertaining and competitive preparation for the upcoming international season.
Wales Under-19: Yvette Churchill, Sophie Davies, Sophie Cole, Lauren Price, Danielle Oates, Hayley Ladd, Angharad James, Josie Green, Megan Wynne, Jordan Guard, Rachel Hignett. Subs: Alice Evans, Alex George, Ellie Curson, Emily Thomas, Rebekah Hadley, Amy Thrupp, Shanelle Edwards.
Belgium Under-19: Chloe Bellavia, Celine Verdonck, Ella Van Kerkhoven, Kimberly Verbist, Taika De Koker, Julie Biesmans, Anne Muni, Laura Deneve, Charlotte Laridon, Maria-Laura Aga, Ellen Charlier. Subs: Louise Van Den Burgh, Sofie De Plus, Iris Dessers, Annemie Liefhooge.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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