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Harding hat-trick sees Wales stay second
 Women's Football News 19 Jun 2014
 
Belarus 0 Wales 3 (Harding 79,85,90)
Natasha Harding hit a hat-trick in the last eleven minutes as Wales had a tremendous 3-0 win in Minsk to keep their dream of a top two finish very much alive with two games to go. 
 
Jarmo Matikainen's team ideally needed another three points towards the goal of at least second place in the group in order to look for a play-off place to reach Canada 2015.
 
Wales had one change from the team that had beaten Turkey, the injured Hayley Ladd being replaced by Helen Bleazard in midfield, with Bleazard's place in defence being taken by Carys Hawkins.
 
Wales made a quick start with Harding having a shot blocked after only four minutes, though the corner came to nothing. In the next few minutes, Helen Bleazard and Jessica Fishlock both had chances blocked. From a resultant corner, Hawkins had a shot blocked and then on 21 minutes a chance fell to captain Fishlock, but she missed the target.
 
Following an infringement, Wales were awarded a free kick that Fishlock took, but the keeper saved. Another free kick came Wales' way on 22 minutes, but once again, Fishlock was unsuccessful as Belarus struggled to keep the visitors at bay.
 
Around the half hour mark, Wales had three more chances, one to Bleazard and two to Harding that were all missed as the shots on goal tally continued to rise for Wales. On 36 minutes, Sarah Wiltshire got into the action with a shot that was well saved by Inna Batsianouskaya.
 
On 42 minutes, Yulya Borisenko received the first yellow card for a foul on Fishlock, who took the kick that was well saved again. From the corner, Wiltshire had a shot blocked and Wales had a succession of corners into time added on, none of which could find the net.
 
The second half was only three minutes old when Belarus had their first shot at goal from Anastasya Linnik. Wales quickly countered with an effort from midfielder Angharad James, who was then guilty of a foul that gave Belarus a second chance on goal, but the free kick was wasted. Wales won a corner on 51 minutes, taken by Fishlock, that found James, but her shot missed the target.
 
Two minutes later another corner was won, taken by Bleazard, and Hawkins had a header saved. Harding had a shot blocked, then Fishlock also had a chance that went wide.
 
Time was beginning to run out for Wales as despite all the dominance through the game, the Belarus defence was holding steady, much as it had done in the first meeting between the sides in Cardiff at the start of the qualifying group, when Wales won by a single late goal from Helen Ward.
 
A corner came to Wales on 75 minutes, taken by Helen Bleazard, but nothing came from it. A minute later, Carys Hawkins and Anastasia Shcherbachenia were both shown the yellow card. From the free kick, Belarus had a shot blocked and then missed a chance from the rebound.
 
Finally luck turned for Wales when Harding scored from an assist by Fishlock on 79 minutes. It was no more than Wales deserved after almost continuous attacking over the whole match. Wales had the reward and with the Ukraine losing at home to England, it looked a very important goal indeed in the quest for qualification.
 
The game was settled in the 85th minute when Natasha Harding scored her second goal, once again thanks to an assist by Fishlock. Now it was looking like a job very well done by the squad.
 
Wales looked to keep things tight for the final few minutes, introducing Nadia Lawrence in place of the hard working James with a minute to go. Loren Dykes then had a shot blocked in the 90th minute.
 
The scoring was not over yet though and in added time, Harding completed her hat-trick, again with an assist from Fishlock. It had been a red letter day for the Welsh in Minsk. 
 
* Wales' World Cup qualifying match against England will be held at the Cardiff City Stadium on Thursday 21st August, kick off 7.05pm.

Belarus: Inna Botyanovskaya, Darya Marinina, Anastasia Linnik, Yulia Slesarchik, Anna Kozyupa, Liana Miroshnichenko, Yulia Borisenko, Anastasia Popova (sub Polina Beshten 64mins), Anastasia Khavanskaya (sub Anastasia Shcherbachenia 59mins), Anna Pilipenko, Alina Vasilyeva (sub Tatsiana Kiose 70mins). Subs not used: Tatiana Markushevskaya, Oksana Shpak, Ekaterina Miklashevich, Elena Shevchuk.

Wales: Nicola Davies, Nicola Cousins, Carys Hawkins, Kylie Davies, Sophie Ingle, Angharad James (sub Nadia Lawrence 89mins), Loren Dykes, Jessica Fishlock, Natasha Harding, Sarah Wiltshire (sub Josie Green 84mins), Helen Bleazard (sub Michelle Green 76mins). Subs not used: Sophie Dando, Alys Hinchcliffe, Georgia Evans, Samantha Quayle.

 
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