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Wales 1 (Ward 81) Belarus 0
Wales opened up their FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying group campaign with a 1-0 victory over Belarus in their first ever appearance at the Cardiff City Stadium.
However Jarmo Matikainen's side had to show a great degree of patience to break down stubborn Belarus resistance before Helen Ward marked her 50th appearance for her country by becoming the first ever Welsh women's international to score 30 goals.
Lauren Price, fresh from leading her country in the recent UEFA Women's Under-19 Championship Finals in Wales, started in the centre of defence alongside Kylie Davies whilst Hayley Ladd lined up in midfield with captain Jessica Fishlock and Sophie Ingle. Helen Bleazard was given the nod in the right back position in place of the injured Loren Dykes.
Wales made most of the early running but found themselves up against a Belarus side which was determined not to make the same mistakes as they did in their heavy defeat by England five days earlier.
Jessica Fishlock forced an early save from Inna Botyanovskaya whilst Sarah Wiltshire had a shot blocked and Nicola Cousins an effort charged down from the resulting corner.
Cousins was off target from a free kick and Ward had a shot blocked before Belarus produced their first meaningful attempt when Alina Vasilyeva was wide from an Ekaterina Avkhimovich corner.
Ward had a shot saved by Botyanovskaya and Fishlock saw a strike blocked before Lauren Price headed wide from a Helen Bleazard corner. Botyanovskaya made another save from a Cousins free kick but Wales could not find a breakthrough going into the interval.
Wales made a change at half time with Angharad James replacing Kylie Davies and although Hayley Ladd, Wiltshire and James all had shots off target, Nicola Davies needed to be alert at the other end to make saves from Anastasiya Linnik and an Aksana Shpak free kick.
Ward and Wiltshire both had shots saved as the game appeared to be drifting towards a goalless draw until, with nine minutes remaining, Ward produced a well taken finish to finally break the deadlock.
There was still work needed to be done at the other end with Shpak firing wide from a free kick but Wales closed the game out to give themselves the winning start that they craved.
Wales: Nicola Davies, Helen Bleazard, Nicola Cousins, Lauren Price, Kylie Davies (sub Angharad James 45mins), Hayley Ladd (sub Michelle Green 87mins), Natasha Harding (sub Hannah Keryakoplis 74mins), Jessica Fishlock, Helen Ward, Sarah Wiltshire, Sophie Ingle. Subs not used: Alice Evans, Emma Plewa, Amy Wathan, Nadia Lawrence.
Belarus: Inna Botyanovskaya, Anastasia Linnik, Aksana Shpak, Svetlana Astashova (sub Irina Tretyakova 65mins), Anna Pilipenko, Alina Vasilyeva, Anastasia Kharlanova, Elvira Urazaeva, Maria Buzunova, Yulia Borisenko, Ekaterina Avkhimovich. Subs not used: Olga Savostyan, Tatiana Markushevskaya, Yulia Slesarchik, Liana Miroshnichenko, Tatsiana Klose, Yulia Denisenko.
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