Wales 0-0 New Zealand (in Pinatar, Spain)
by Martin Townley (29/6/22)
Above: Combative action between Wales and New Zealand yesterday. Photo: PhotoSport NZ.
Wales and New Zealand played out a goalless draw on a sunny evening in Spain. In a competitive encounter, both teams created chances despite not being at their best.
Indeed, the Football Ferns could have taken the win through Grace Jale late on if not for a fine save from Laura O’Sullivan in the Wales goal. It was a New Zealand side who fielded some of the young stars from Wellington Phoenix’s inaugural A-League Women season with the Jale joined by team-mate Kate Taylor on the bench.
A goalless first half saw a combination of shaky play and chances. New Zealand enjoyed more spells of possession, but Wales always had opportunities.
The first chance of the game came from a quick Wales counterattack. Kayleigh Green found Rachel Rowe on the left. Rowe played the ball across the six-yard box but the advancing Ceri Holland, but she could not connect.
Annalie Longo could have put New Zealand ahead after a poor defensive pass from Hayley Ladd. Ladd played the ball across her own box gifting possession to Longo but under pressure, her shot went off a Welsh player and wide.
Rhiannon Roberts found Angharad James with a cross from the right. James struck the ball from the edge of the area, but her effort was deflected and never a danger for Esson’s goal.
Sophie Ingle began to try and pull the strings for Wales putting a sublime pass into Natasha Harding to set her though but pulled her shot across goal.
The Ferns had two great opportunities to go ahead before the break. First, Perth Glory’s Liz Anton who latched onto the ball on the edge of the box and unleashed a shot that looked to be heading into the top corner. O’Sullivan was across goal to push the ball over the bar and keep the score at 0-0.
Soon after, Katie Bowen found Meilayla Moore free who headed over the bar when if she had headed down would have likely given her side the lead.
New Zealand began the second half quicker than their opposition, making crisp passing moves and forcing Wales to play in their own half.
Gemma Evans was forced to concede a corner as Sydney FC star Paige Satchell was working towards the box. From the corner, Wales tried to clear but the ball fell to Rebekah Stott who fired a shot over the bar.
Ceri Holland had a chance for Wales after an error let her in. Seeing Victoria Esson slightly off her line she went for a lob, but the keeper made an easy save.
New Zealand were looking the better side and a good cross in from the right forced Laura O’Sullivan to punch away. With the keeper out of position, Olivia Chance fired at goal but Roberts was back to clear.
With time running down, New Zealand almost took the win as Jacqui Hand met a cross from the right from Grace Jale with a bullet header. O’Sullivan reacted quickly with a fine save putting the ball over the bar.
Teams: WALES: O’Sullivan, Roberts, Ladd, Evans, Rowe, Sophie Ingle, James, Jones, Harding, Green, Holland. Substitutes used: Green, Morgan, Filbey, Woodham, Wynn, Ward.
NEW ZEALAND: Esson, Anton, Bunge, Moore, Stott, Bowen, Chance, Steinmetz, Longo, Satchell, Wilkinson. Substitutes used: Green, Taylor, Hand, Jale, Hassett, Rennie.