Erin Cuthbert scored the only goal of the game on Tuesday evening as Cymru suffered a 1-0 defeat to Scotland at Parc y Scarlets in an entertaining women's international challenge match.
Cymru 1-0 Scotland
- Erin Cuthbert 59'
Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
Cymru manager Gemma Grainger handed 17-year Carrie Jones her first senior start and the Manchester United midfielder impressed with a confident performance. Despite the defeat, Cymru had chances in a close and competitive contest which will prove to be another valuable step in preparing for the World Cup qualifiers that start later this year.
Taking charge of her third match, Grainger named another strong and experienced starting line-up as she looked to build on the positive performances against Canada and Denmark in April, and almost enjoyed the perfect start as Jones and Jess Fishlock both came close with efforts inside the first two minutes.
Scotland, also boasting a wealth of experience in captain Rachel Corsie and influential midfielder Kim Little, soon settled into the match, but it was Cymru that looked the more likely score the opening goal. Jones, playing with a maturity above her years, combined well with Fishlock after 13 minutes, before Angharad James tested Scotland goalkeeper Lee Alexander and Rachel Rowe tried her luck from distance from the resulting corner.
Despite Cymru enjoying the better of the opening half, it was Scotland that finished the first period the stronger of the two teams. Erin Cuthbert and Claire Emslie both had headed efforts on goal, and it was Cuthbert who had the best chance of the half on 44 minutes as the Chelsea forward rattled the crossbar with a shot from the edge of the area. Little could then only divert her effort wide from the rebound.
With the momentum in their favour, Scotland pressured the Cymru defence from the restart, with Laura O'Sullivan punching clear from a crowded penalty area. However, Cymru responded well and began asking questions of their own as James and Natasha Harding both created chances on goal but failed to find the target.
Scotland opened the scoring after 58 minutes as Cuthbert capitalised on a mistake by O'Sullivan to pass the ball into the empty net. It was a frustrating setback for Grainger's side after matching their higher-ranked opponents throughout the match, and the manager made a defensive switch as Rhiannon Roberts moved into the centre of defence following the substitution of Josie Green.
Cymru continued to search for an equaliser, with Harding's effort deflected over the bar before captain Sophie Ingle could only volley wide from the edge of the area. Goalkeeper Olivia Clark was introduced on 76 minutes for her senior Cymru debut, and while she wasn't tested, Scotland held on to claim the victory as referee Louise Thompson brought the match to an end.
Cymru: O'Sullivan (GK) (Clark 76), Roberts, Evans, J.Green (E.Morgan 66), Rowe, Ingle (c), James, Fishlock, Harding, Jones (Walters 76), K.Green (F.Morgan 90).
Subs: Soper (GK), Filbey, Williams, Hughes, Estcourt, Francis-Jones.
Scotland: Alexander (GK), Smith, Corsie (c), Westrup, Brown (Arnot 75), Little, Weir, Graham, Grimshaw (McLauchlan 56), Emslie, Cuthbert (Murray 90+1).
Subs: Cummings (GK), Fife (GK), Robertson, Eddie, Arthur, Howard,, Docherty, Clelland, Hanson.
Goals: Cuthbert (58)
Referee: Louise Thompson (NIR)
Assistant Referees: Victoria Finlay (NIR) & Michelle O'Neill (ROI)
Fourth Official: Cheryl Foster (WAL)