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Canada 3 (D. Rose 24, Viens 58, Fleming 62)>
Canada 3 (D. Rose 24, Viens 58, Fleming 62)
New Wales manager Gemma Grainger saw her first game in charge end in a 3-0 defeat against a strong Canada side in their friendly at the Leckwith Stadium.
Ceri Holland was handed a place in the starting line up for her senior international debut, whilst Lily Woodham was also named after scoring on her debut against the Faroe Islands last October. There was an otherwise familiar look to the side as the new era for the women's national team began against a talented Canadian side, captained by all-time record international goalscorer Christine Sinclair.
There was an early test for Lily Woodham on the left hand side of the defence against Deanne Rose as the visitors turned their possession into a series of corners in the opening exchanges. On 15 minutes, a deep cross from Angharad James was collected by goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe and Canada showed their ability to cause problems on the counter attack as they took advantage of the space left behind from the previous passage of play, before Laura O'Sullivan made the first save of the game from Rose.
Midway through the opening half, Canada took the lead as Rose evaded the attention of Woodham to find herself in space on the right and fired a powerful shot past O'Sullivan after being played in by Quinn.
The goal prompted a positive response from Wales, and Kayleigh Green came close to levelling shortly after as the home side pushed forward in numbers. An injury for Sinclair saw the Canada captain replaced after half an hour as Evelyne Viens entered the field, but with just a few minutes of the opening half remaining, Shelina Zadorsky missed the chance to double the lead for the visitors as her effort went narrowly wide.
Wales made a positive start to the second half with an intelligent free kick from Rachel Rowe almost finding Jessica Fishlock in space. However, it was the substitute Viens who would double the advantage for Canada when she converted from close range just before the hour mark. Appeals for a Wales penalty were dismissed following a challenge on Natasha Harding shortly after the second goal, but a fine finish from Jessie Fleming on 62 minutes increased the lead for the visitors as the once disciplined Wales defence began to lose its earlier composure.
It was encouraging that Wales once again showed a positive reaction to conceding two quick goals, but clear cut chances remained limited, despite the side asking a number of questions in the final third. Sadly, a consolation goal remained elusive, while O'Sullivan and Sophie Ingle had to be at their very best to prevent Canada increasing their lead as spaces were exposed at the other end of the field.
Despite having less than a week to work with her squad, the new manager has clearly made a big impression on the group and there was an emphasis on the side to attack in numbers despite the quality of the opposition. The disciplined back four may have lost its shape in the latter stages of the match, but a relentlessly energetic midfield provided a foundation for the team to push forward as a unit.
It was this element of the performance that provided the most obvious example of the positive approach the side will take forward in their journey under the guidance of Grainger. The scoreline will be a momentary setback, but the positives from the performance will provide plenty for the manager to reflect on and build upon ahead of Tuesday's friendly against Denmark.
Wales: Laura O'Sullivan, Gemma Evans, Sophie Ingl, Rhiannon Roberts, Angharad James, Kayleigh Green, Jessica Fishlock, Natasha Harding, Rachel Rowe, Ceri Holland, Lily Woodham. Subs: Olivia Clark, Poppy Soper, Anna Filbey, Josie Green, Helen Ward, Chloe Williams, Elise Hughes, Charlie Estcourt, Bethan Roberts, Carrie Jones, Georgia Walters, Maria Francis-Jones, Ffion Morgan, Esther Morgan, Kylie Nolan.
Canada: Stephanie Labbe, Shelina Zadorsky, Quinn, Deanne Rose, Jordyn Huitema, Ashley Lawrence, Desiree Scott, Christine Sinclair, Gabrielle Carle, Jessie Fleming, Vanessa Gilles. Subs: Erin McLeod, Rylee Foster, Allysha Chapman, Julia Grosso, Jayde Riviere, Sophie Schmidt, Nichelle Prince, Janine Beckie, Jordyn Listro, Jade Rose, Lindsay Agnew, Evelyne Viens, Samantha Chang, Cloe Lacasse, Sarah Stratigakis, Jenna Hellstrom.
Photo - Deanne Ross takes on Lily Woodham (Will Cheshire).
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