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Wales 1 (Ladd 44) Romania 1 (Lunca 47)
Wales had to settle for a draw in the opening of their double header of friendly matches with Romania at the GenQuip Stadium.
The two teams are separated by only one position in the FIFA Women's World Rankings and this was evident throughout the match in what turned out to be a very even contest with few clear cut chances at either end.
Wales started the better of the two sides and kept possession well. Natasha Harding was looking particularly lively up front and Wales were looking solid in midfield but without being able to get behind a strong tackling Romanian defence and threaten Mirela Ganea's goal.
Sarah Wiltshire fired a shot wide and Jessica Fishlock was just off target with a looping header but Wales were to open the scoring a minute ahead of half time.
The goal initially owed much to the persistence of Harding and Loren Dykes, who shut down the Romanian defence when in possession and forced an error. Wales won possession and Harding drove in a low cross from the right and into the area where Hayley Ladd stole in and thumped a powerful shot past Ganea to record her first goal for her country in her 20th cap.
However within two minutes of the restart, Romania were back on level terms and the home side were left particularly disappointed with the equaliser. Wales had sloppily given away possession and were ruthlessly punished for this, Florentina Spanu-Olar sliding a pass into the path of half time substitute Alexandra Lunca who took one touch before drilling a shot which arrowed into the far corner of the net, giving Nicola Davies no chance.
The goal clearly knocked Wales out of their stride and Romania began to press for a second goal. They won a series of corners, one of which almost led to them going in front as the home defence were unable to clear and Stefania Vatafu's strike brought out an excellent save from Davies.
Wales rode out the storm and began to fashion some half chances of their own. Wiltshire hooked a shot over the bar and Ladd lost her footing whilst trying to convert a Dykes cross, but the teams were starting to cancel each other out now and a series of substitutions were not helping matters.
Nicola Cousins drove in an excellent cross which flashed across the face of goal and narrowly evaded three of her team mates, then Harding was just over with a powerful header from a Helen Bleazard corner. Wales were finishing the game well but Romania continued to look neat and tidy in possession, alongside some fierce tackling with Fishlock on the receiving end on more than one occasion.
However Romania could well have snatched victory as the game entered injury time. Lunca had looked impressive after coming on and she tricked her way past a challenge from Cousins and pulled the ball back from the goal line for the oncoming Ioana Bortan who miscued her shot at goal and the final chance of the match had gone.
The two teams will meet again on Sunday at Stebonheath Park, Llanelli (3pm) and on this evidence, another closely fought match is in prospect.
Wales: Nicola Davies, Helen Bleazard, Nicola Cousins, Kylie Davies, Sophie Ingle, Angharad James, Loren Dykes (sub Helen Ward 72mins), Hayley Ladd, Sarah Wiltshire (sub Hannah Keryakoplis 64mins (sub Nadia Lawrence 89mins)), Jessica Fishlock, Natasha Harding (sub Michelle Green 85mins). Subs not used: Alice Evans, Rhian Cleverly, Carys Hawkins, Sam Quayle, Georgia Evans.
Romania: Mirela Ganea, Corina Corniciuc, Adina Giurgiu (sub Andreea Corduneanu 72mins), Ioana Bortan, Maria Ficzay, Stefania Vatafu, Georgiana Birtoiu, Florentina Spanu-Olar, Alexandra Iusan (sub Alexandra Lunca 45mins), Monika Sinka (sub Nicoleta Barbos 60mins), Ane-Marie Banuta (sub Andreea Voicu 87mins).
(top) Natasha Harding closes down Maria Ficzay
(middle) Helen Ward is faced by Florentina Spanu-Olar
(bottom) Jessica Fishlock takes on Maria Ficzay
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