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Wales campaign ends in defeat

Wales 0 Republic of Ireland 1

Wales’ Pinatar Cup campaign ended on a losing note as they were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Republic of Ireland in the third place play-off match.

Helen Ward came off the bench in their final match of the Pinatar Cup in Spain to earn her 99th cap, as Gemma Grainger’s team completed their preparation for the crunch FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifier against France.  

Ward has been an incredible servant to Welsh football and now stands on the cusp of joining Jessica Fishlock, Loren Dykes, Sophie Ingle, Chris Gunter and Gareth Bale in the Wales 100 club.

The 1-0 defeat to the Republic of Ireland saw Wales end this friendly tournament in fourth place, however Grainger will take plenty of positives from their time in Spain having had the opportunity to give members of her squad some playing time over the three matches in addition to very positive performances against Scotland and Belgium.

Wales got off to a slow start against Ireland and when Rhiannon Roberts uncharacteristically gave away possession deep inside her own half and presented an opportunity for Denise O’Sullivan, with the sweetest of strikes, the striker put the ball high into the Welsh net and out of Olivia Clark’s reach, despite her best efforts.

Wales looked off the pace throughout the first half and the Republic of Ireland worked hard to deny them any real joy in front of goal. However, there was a brighter start to the second half as Grainger’s side put the pressure on to find the equalising goal.

The first positive sign was a Natasha Harding run from deep, which took her to the edge of the area where she took a strike at goal. Her shot was on target but the ball was held by Courtney Brosnan.

Wales came even closer shortly after when Sophie Ingle hit a stunning shot that had Brosnan beaten, but the ball clipped the top of the bar as Republic of Ireland maintained their lead.  

In the 89th minute there were strong calls for a penalty as the players were convinced that the ball had been handled in the box by a Republic of Ireland defender. The appeals were turned down by the referee and Ireland held out to win the match and take third place in the Pinatar Cup.

Wales: Olivia Clark, Rhiannon Roberts, Gemma Evans (sub Anna Filbey 60mins), Charlie Estcourt, Rachel Rowe (Sub Lily Woodham 60mins), Angharad James, Sophie Ingle, Natasha Harding (sub Georgia Walters 60mins), Jessica Fishlock (sub Helen Ward 70mins), Ceri Holland (sub Elise Hughes 70mins), Ffion Morgan (sub Kayleigh Green 70mins). Subs not used: Laura O’Sullivan, Chloe Bull, Megan Wynne, Carrie Jones, Poppy Soper, Morgan Rogers.