Wales produced a defensive masterclass to stay top of their FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying group after earning a fantastic 0-0 draw in Southampton.
England 0-0 Wales
FIFA WOMEN'S WORLD CUP QUALIFIER
- Friday, 6 April 2018
- St Mary's Stadium, Southampton
It could have been better for Wales too, as the ball appeared to cross the line during the first half. When Natasha Harding’s shot deflected off an England defender, Lucy Bronze appeared to clear the ball from behind the line but no goal was given.
Wales however, did not let the ghost goal distract them from the job at hand, as Jayne Ludlow’s players worked incredibly hard to deny an England team, ranked second in the world, from getting the win they so desired.
Goalkeeper Laura O’Sullivan was immense as she pulled off save after save at St Mary’s as England’s frustrations grew throughout the game, forcing the Lionesses into long range efforts.
There were very few chances for Wales in the game as they clearly arrived in Southampton with a plan of taking a point back home at a minimum.
At times England demonstrated why they are second in the world rankings with some lovely interchangeable play but overall they will be disappointed to have drawn the match.
Toni Duggan came close for the English in the first half but her well hit strike was equalled by O’Sullivan, who had to change the direction of her body to push the ball away to safety.
Jordan Nobbs thought she’d given England the lead when her swerving effort from distance had O’Sullivan beaten, however, the crossbar came to Wales’ rescue on this occasion.
A vital block by the Welsh defence denied Fran Kirby, whose strike looked certain for the net but Wales were determined not to allow a way through for the ball.
O’Sullivan produced another fine save as she refused Ellen White’s powerful shot, setting up a Welsh counterattack in the process. Jess Fishlock went one-on-one with the last defender but overran the ball and failed to notice Telford off her goal line. However, her tireless efforts gave Wales some respite from the pressure.
England’s best chance of the match came with just moments left of regulation time left on the clock. After O’Sullivan elected to punch the ball away from a corner, which was her only mistake of the evening, it fell to Nobbs in space. She spurned the chance by striking the ball into the side-netting.
As the final whistle was blown, the joy on the Welsh players faces was evident as it was mission accomplished.
Wales return to action in June with a doubleheader at home to Bosnia and Herzegovina (7 June) and Russia (12 June) at venues to be decided.
Wales: O'Sullivan, Dykes, Ingle (c), Roberts, Harding, James, Green, Fishlock, Rowe, Ladd, Estcourt. Subs (not used): Griffiths, Lawrence, Skinner, Hughes, Fletcher, Miles, Ward.
England:Telford, Bronze, McManus, Houghton, Stokes, Walsh, Nobbs, Kirby, Parris (Lawley 54’), Taylor (White 54’), Duggan (Mead 80’). Subs (not used): Bardsley, Daly, George, Christiansen.