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Defiant Wales stifle England
 Women's Football World Cup News - 7 Apr 2018
England 0 Wales 0
att: 25,603; at Southampton FC

England's first home match under the managership of Phil Neville ended in frustration as they failed to break down a defiant Wales side at the St Mary's Stadium.
Wales goalkeeper Laura O'Sullivan made a number of excellent saves but was aided by some outstanding displays in front of her; captain Sophie Ingle and Hayley Ladd in the centre and Charlie Estcourt at full back standing out in particular. Wales' superbly organised rearguard fully deserved a share of the spoils and it could have been even better, but for a controversial moment when they were denied what looked to be a goal.
Wales manager Jayne Ludlow set her formation up with a defensive bank of five and four midfielders in front of them, inviting England to break them down, but it was the visitors who created the first opportunity with Rachel Rowe's volley being touched over by Carly Telford.
The resulting corner found its way to Natasha Harding whose shot deflected off two England players and Lucy Bronze was on hand to clear - however the ball did appear to cross the line before the full back hooked it away, Wales' appeals being turned down and play waved on.
It had been a subdued start from England as they struggled to find a way through but Toni Duggan and Jordan Nobbs both forced O'Sullivan into making saves as they began to find some rhythm.
Nobbs was to go even closer with a powerful strike from 25 yards which was tipped onto the bar by O'Sullivan, but opportunities were scarce for the home side as Wales comfortably saw out the first half.
The first opportunity of the second half came England's way three minutes after the restart, a corner being half cleared as far as Fran Kirby, whose well struck volley was charged down by the Welsh defence.
Steph Houghton dragged a shot wide from distance and Melissa Lawley, shortly after coming on as a substitute, fired just over after cutting in from the left.
The introduction of the lively Lawley on the left had given England fresh impetus and threat, whilst another substitute, Ellen White, was narrowly off target with a glancing header after Bronze had driven the ball into the area from deep and O'Sullivan needed to palm an inswinging Nobbs corner over the bar under pressure.
O'Sullivan then pulled off a fine diving save to turn away a White shot for a corner and the keeper also held a more tame effort from Kirby from the edge of the area.
England were looking more threatening with every attack and Wales were forced to dig deep, although every clearance was now coming straight back at them despite the valiant efforts of Kayleigh Green up front.
A glorious chance came England's way as Nobbs' free kick into the area was resulted into a miscued punch by O'Sullivan as far as Abbie McManus who looked likely to score but sidefooted into the side netting.
O'Sullivan saved well again, tipping a Kirby shot over the bar, and a scramble ensued from the resulting corner with several efforts being blocked before McManus blazed over.
Still England pressed and a good move culminated with Lawley's cross bouncing off Rachel Rowe being being grasped by a grateful O'Sullivan. White again glanced a header just wide at full stretch and the last chance was gone; Wales had held out for a very hard earned point.
Wales had failed to register a single shot on goal in the second half but such was their effort and organisation, defeat would have been extremely harsh on them. Despite their frustrations, England still have matters in their hands in the group and will have the chance to go top when they play away to Bosnia & Herzegovina on Tuesday.
Carly Telford, Lucy Bronze, Demi Stokes, Keira Walsh, Steph Houghton, Abbie McManus, Nikita Parris (sub Melissa Lawley 53mins), Jordan Nobbs, Jodie Taylor (sub Ellen White 53mins), Fran Kirby, Toni Duggan (sub Beth Mead 79mins). Subs not used: Karen Bardsley, Rachel Daly, Gabrielle George, Izzy Christiansen.
Laura O'Sullivan, Loren Dykes, Sophie Ingle, Rhiannon Roberts, Natasha Harding, Angharad James, Kayleigh Green, Jessica Fishlock, Rachel Rowe, Hayley Ladd, Charlie Estcourt. Subs not used: Claire Skinner, Alice Griffiths, Nadia Lawrence, Elise Hughes, Melissa Fletcher, Hannah Miles, Helen Ward.

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