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Women's Football News
Wales 2 (Wynne 68, Lawrence 76)
Goals from Megan Wynne and Nadia Lawrence in the final quarter of the match earned Wales a 2-0 win over Estonia on a night when patience was a key attribute for Jayne Ludlow's side.
Despite the freezing conditions, there was a warm welcome for Estonia manager Jarmo Matikainen on his return to Wales. The popular Finnish coach was Jayne Ludlow's predecessor, and played an important part in the development of players like Angharad James, Natasha Harding, captain Sophie Ingle and many others, and he was presented with a signed shirt by the squad before kick off in a show of appreciation. Matikainen played a key role in creating a professional environment for the women's game in Wales, and he can take great pride in how his work provided the foundations for the team today.
The intentions were clear from the opening exchanges that Wales were determined to make a fast start to this international friendly, and the attacking formation that left just Hayley Ladd and Anna Filbey to marshal the defence caused problems for the visitors.
Natasha Harding, Kayleigh Green and captain Sophie Ingle all asked questions of Estonian goalkeeper Karina Kork in the opening ten minutes, but Kork's form continued throughout the half as Wales continued to relentlessly attack, and she later denied Josie Green from opening the scoring before half time.
With Rhiannon Roberts playing in a wider role and Ingle pushed forward in the middle of midfield, Estonia were forced to take on a physical approach to prevent themselves from being overrun. However, they remained solid and organised despite enjoying little possession, and Ludlow's side were becoming increasingly frustrated as the opening half came to a close.
Helen Ward replaced Kayleigh Green in attack for the second half, but the frustration in front of goal continued as Estonia defended resolutely against wave after wave of Wales attacks. As the match wore on, it was clear that the confidence of the visitors was increasing as their game plan was having the desired effect.
Roberts, Angharad James and Megan Wynne all tried their luck from the edge of the area early in the second half without success. However, the deadlock was finally broken on 68 minutes when Wynne capitalised on a loose ball in the area after Kork had saved a header from substitute Ffion Morgan. The relief was evident as the continued pressure paid off.
Substitute Nadia Lawrence added the second from close range on 76 minutes after an excellent run from James on the right. Further chances followed for the home side, but the next cheer from the 2,015 in attendance would follow the final whistle as the side claimed a victory on their return to north Wales.
Women's and girl's football in north Wales has experienced an exciting growth in recent years, and the hunger to support the national team was clearly evident as 2,015 fans came out on a cold night at the Racecourse. Although it didn't break the attendance record for a women's home international friendly in Wales, with hundreds of youngsters having the opportunity to cheer on their heroes live, the decision to take the side across the country has been another important step forward for the women's game. A victory certainly helped too.
Wales: Laura O'Sullivan, Anna Filbey, Sophie Ingle, Rhiannon Roberts, Josie Green, Megan Wynne, Angharad James, Kayleigh Green, Natasha Harding, Rachel Rowe, Hayley Ladd. Subs: Grace Horrell, Helen Ward, Claire Skinner, Charlie Estcourt, Maria Francis-Jones, Nadia Lawrence, Georgia Walters, Ffion Morgan, Chloe Williams, Olivia Clark, Lily Woodham, Jasmine Turner, Loren Dykes.
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