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Wales Under-19 put in a much improved performance against Croatia at Park Hall on Thursday, but were left with little to show for their efforts as substitute Katica Jo-Ann Radoš scored the crucial goal that would edge the match and a 3-2 win in favour of their opponents.
Wales made an encouraging start as they looked to make amends for their opening defeat to Azerbaijan with Niamh Tinman and captain Charlotte Estcourt both coming close inside the opening few minutes. Wales looked more creative and positive in their attacking play, but Croatia captain Matea Bošnjak headed over from a Melani Mihi corner after seven minutes.
Bošnjak would open the scoring after 10 minutes when the forward dispossessed defender Ffion Llewellyn and drilled a powerful shot past Charlotte Edmunds. Wales responded positively despite the disappointment, and Chelsea Jumratie failed to find the target from a free kick on the edge of the area after Ena Devi had brought down Estcourt on her way to goal.
Croatia doubled their lead in spectacular style on 22 minutes as Mihi swung her corner straight past Edmunds and into the far top corner the net. Wales continued to look the better of the two sides in possession, and reduced arrears on 38 minutes when Ceri Holland found herself and space and placed the ball past goalkeeper Sanja Sabo.
Wales claimed a deserved equaliser on 56 minutes when Estcourt, pushed further forward for the second half, struck the bar and headed home the rebound.
Holland was a constant concern for the Croatia defence and was denied by Sabo on 66 minutes. However, Croatia took the lead with Radoš scoring what would prove to be the decisive goal two minutes later.
Wales: Charlotte Edmunds, Niamh Tinman, Charlie Estcourt, Fiona Dodge, Ffion Llewellyn, Lois Regan (sub Hannah Miles 57mins), Chelsea Jumratie (sub Laura Mitchell 57mins), Ceri Holland, Katy Hosford, Ffion Price, Liberty Piggott. Subs not used: Jodie Buck, Olivia Fuller, Jenni Buckley, Aleisha Cruwys.
(Report by www.faw.org.uk)
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