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England 2 (Nobbs 47, Duggan 56) Wales 0
att: 5,764; at Millwall F.C.
England made it three wins out of three in their FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying group when two goals early in the second half broke the resistance of a valiant Wales side at The Den.
Wales had defended really well in the first half with Kylie Davies and Sophie Ingle having fine games in the centre but goals from Jordan Nobbs and Toni Duggan cemented England's position at the top of the group.
Brent Hills made two changes to his starting line up with Karen Bardsley returning in goal and Steph Houghton coming into the centre of defence. Wales coach Jarmo Matikainen meanwhile welcomed back Loren Dykes at full back after five months out through injury and Angharad James was recalled in midfield.
The first opening came as Karen Carney dispossessed Hayley Ladd in the Welsh half and slid the ball into Ellen White's path in the area where she flashed a low centre across the face of goal which eluded two oncoming strikers.
Steph Houghton tried her luck with a long range free kick which was pushed away by a diving Nicola Davies and Toni Duggan headed wide from an Alex Scott cross as England began to pick up the greater of the possession.
However it was Wales who nearly made the breakthrough as Sarah Wiltshire played an inch perfect pass into the path of Helen Ward who made her way into the area but Houghton came to her side's rescue with a well timed challenge.
Fara Williams was inches wide with a deflected shot and the midfielder went close again via a dipping 25-yard shot which drifted just over, after a corner had been half cleared.
Another dipping effort, this time by Carney, was turned over the bar by Davies and White was unlucky to see a goalbound volley strike her own team mate from Scott's cross.
As half time approached, England produced their best piece of football so far. Scott's pass played in Eniola Aluko in the area and her cross was headed goalwards by Carney but Davies pulled off an excellent reflex save to keep her side on level terms at the break.
Wales were forced into a half time substitution with the injured Natasha Harding being replaced by Carys Hawkins and they were put on the back foot early on as Aluko found White in space in the area but her shot failed to hit the target.
However a quickly taken corner proved to be Wales' undoing two minutes after the restart. Carney flicked the ball back to Scott who drove a low cross into the area and Nobbs reacted quickly to plant her shot over Davies and into the back of the net for the opening goal.
Nine minutes later and it was two. After Jessica Fishlock had been harshly penalised when she appeared to have been fouled by Carney, the resulting free kick was played towards the area by Williams and Aluko's cross found its way to Duggan who chested the ball down before confidently drilling a low shot into the corner.
Wales needed to make another substitution with influential captain Fishlock, who had played for much of the match with a suspected broken wrist, being forced off and Michelle Green replacing her, but they could well have been back in the game a minute later.
Wiltshire was having a good game in midfield and she played another good ball for Ward to outpace the England defence but she shot wide with only Bardsley to beat.
England continued to press though and it took a good save from Davies to deny Houghton as she met a Carney corner with a downward header at the far post. Davies again saved from a powerful long range strike by Williams as the Welsh defence came under increasing pressure. The outstanding duo of Ingle and Kylie Davies also won a number of important headers to help keep their side in the game.
Wales did not give up and still had chances of their own, Wiltshire whipping a shot just over the bar from the edge of the area and a James corner was met by Dykes whose header flew straight at Bardsley.
Wales introduced Hannah Keryakoplis to give support up front to the hard working Ward, who had been left isolated at times, but Davies needed to made another good save from a long range strike by Williams which swerved viciously in the air.
Carney almost scored in the final minute of injury time when cutting in from the left and driving wide of the far post as England closed out the game to open up a lead of six points at the top of the group.
England: Karen Bardsley, Alex Scott, Lucy Bronze, Fara Williams, Steph Houghton, Casey Stoney, Eniola Aluko (sub Jill Scott 62mins), Jordan Nobbs, Ellen White (sub Natasha Dowie 73mins), Karen Carney, Toni Duggan (sub Jess Clarke 73mins). Subs not used: Gemma Bonner, Rachel Brown-Finnis, Sophie Bradley, Jade Moore.
Wales: Nicola Davies, Loren Dykes, Helen Bleazard, Kylie Davies, Sophie Ingle, Jessica Fishlock (sub Michelle Green 57mins), Angharad James, Hayley Ladd, Helen Ward, Sarah Wiltshire (sub Hannah Keryakoplis 77mins), Natasha Harding (sub Carys Hawkins 45mins). Subs not used: Alice Evans, Lauren Price, Nicola Cousins, Amy Wathan.
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Kylie Davies clears away from Karen Carney
(middle) Helen Ward receives possession under pressure from Steph Houghton
(bottom) Sarah Wiltshire battles for the ball with Ellen White
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