Dragons roar on return to Cardiff

Wales 4-1 Northern Ireland

by Martin Townley at the Cardiff City Stadium for Impetus (8/4/23).

Above: Jess Fishlock, who scored Cymru’s opening goal, battles her way through Northern Ireland tackles. Photo: Perry Dobbins.

Cymru roared to a victory over Northern Ireland on their first game in Cardiff since their historic World Cup Play-off win. 

Over 6,800 fans set a record attendance for a Cymru friendly as Gemma Grainger’s side outclassed Northern Ireland.

Cymru controlled the first half and created plenty of chances.  Jess Fishlock, Angharad James, and Hannah Cain all scored. Cain getting her first senior international goal.  Gemma Grainger’s side pressed high up the pitch and controlled the tempo of the game passing their way around the pitch.  Northern Ireland struggled to play out form the back and rarely troubled the Welsh defence.

Andy Waterworth’s Northern Ireland side started the second half well and had the better of the early exchanges.  His team failed to capitalise on their start and Cymru got the next goal, Rachel Rowe striking in the 63rd minute.  In the 73rd minute, the Irish had a goal back thanks to Lauren Wade.  Northern Ireland were unable to build on the goal and Cymru again controlled most of the play.   

Cymru were pressing the Irish defence very high up the pitch and Ceri Holland almost robbed the ball from Shannon Turner in the visitors’ goal.  The keeper just evading Holland and getting the ball away.

Cymru got the opening goal in the 15th minute thanks to Jess Fishlock.  Angharad James took a quick throw-in which allowed Rachel Rowe to get away on the right. Rowe made it to the by-line and whipped the ball across goal where Fishlock got in front of her marker to turn the ball in.

Cymru had Northern Ireland pinned back and were looking for a second.  With the green shirts struggling to clear their lines, the ball fell to Fishlock.  Going for her second, Fishlock struck a low shot that went just wide of the post. 

Above: Rachel Rowe celebrates after scoring Cymru’s fourth goal. Photo: Perry Dobbins.

The pressure told and soon Cymru had the second goal.  Captain Sophie Ingle with a perfect cross-field ball to find an unmarked Fishlock in the six-yard area.  Fishlock cushioned the ball across goal for James’ top finish at the back post.

Rachel Rowe lined up a Welsh free kick after a foul on Ingle.  Rowe hit it low underneath the wall, but it was wide of the target.

A third goal soon came and first Cymru goal for Hannah Cain.  After good pressure from Cymru, the ball went out to the right where Roberts met it and sent it into the area.  Cain came running in and swept the ball past Turner as Cymru led 3-0 at the break.

After a better start to the second half, it was Northern Ireland who had the first real chance of the half.  Caragh Hamilton hitting a shot on the turn but putting it wide of Olivia Clark’s goal.

A poor goal kick from Clark saw the ball run to Chloe McCarron outside the box.  McCarron went for goal from distance but her effort was well wide.

A good turn and cross from Rowe almost set up Cain for her second.  Rebecca McKenna doing enough to stop Cian getting a good contact on the ball and her shot went wide.

Ceri Holland whipped a ball into the box and Shannon Turner couldn’t hold it the ball went through to Rowe who made no mistake firing in for Cymru’s fourth.

Lauren Wade made a breakthrough the Welsh defence but her effort on goal was wide.  Soon after Wade had her goal taking the ball from Gemma Evans, Wade put the ball in from angle with Clark unable to stop it.

To view Perry Dobbins’ full photo gallery from the match, click on this link: https://impetusfootball.org/2023/04/07/cymru-v-northern-ireland-photo-gallery/

Teams: CYMRU: Clark, Roberts, Ladd (Green 68′), Evans, E. Morgan (Powell 76′), Ingle, Fishlock (Wynne 87′), James, Rowe (F. Morgan 68′), Holland, Cain (Hughes 68′).

Scorers: Fishlock 15′, James 25′, Cain 30′, Rowe 63′.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Turner, McKenna, Vance (Holloway 46′), McFadden, Mason, Callaghan (Furness 64′), Burrows (Rafferty 76′), Wade, Caldwell, Bell (McCarron 46′), Hamilton (Beattie 76′).

Scorer: Wade 73′.

Referee: Stacey Pearson (ENG).

Attendance: 6,831.

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