Jess Fishlock scored a deserved equaliser for Cymru as Gemma Grainger's side built on the positives from the performance in the defeat against Canada to claim an impressive draw against a talented Denmark side at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday night.
Cymru 1-1 Denmark
International Challenge Match
- 13 April 2021
- Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff
Cymru made just one change to the starting line-up for this second international friendly as Josie Green replaced Lily Woodham, but there was also an important tactical change as captain Sophie Ingle was moved out of defence and into her preferred position in midfield.
Ingle joined Chelsea team-mate Pernille Harder prior to the match as the two captains exchange pennants, and it was Denmark that showed their intentions from the start as Nicoline Christiansen combined with Harder to setup Stine Larsen. However, it was Gemma Evans who came close to opening the scoring at the other end of the field after 10 minutes as her looping header was turned over the bar by Lene Christensen.
The positive approach from both teams made for an exciting start, with Cymru's Natasha Harding enjoying a lot more of the ball than she did against Canada as she asked questions for the visiting defence. Meanwhile, Sara Thrige, Larsen and Harder all narrowly missed the target as Denmark tested the new-look Cymru defence with their pace and sharp passing in the final third.
It was Harder who opened the scoring on 24 minutes as the Chelsea star beat Laura O'Sullivan in the Cymru goal after a period of sustained pressure by the Danes. The creative brilliance of Harder proved difficult for Cymru to contain and being pushed back without the ball became increasingly frustrating for the side, with Fishlock audibly pulling her team forward when the ball was in the Denmark half.
On 31 minutes, Fishlock tested Christensen in the Denmark goal to offer a sign that Cymru could create chances when they had the ball, and shortly after the midfielder had an long-range effort blocked by Larsen. It was the catalyst to Cymru showing just what they are capable of in possession, with Ceri Holland and Angharad James also coming close to levelling the score to give Grainger some positive points of discussion in her half-time talk.
Rachel Rowe's set-piece delivery was an effective element of Cyrmu's attacking play in the opening half, and the extra space from her defensive position on the left allowed her to show her ability on the ball in open play as well early in the second half. There was a determination from Cymru following the restart, and the side showed a clear intention to take something from the game as they pushed high up the field in possession.
Cymru's ambition was almost rewarded just before the hour mark as the Danish defence struggled to contain a continued wave of attacking play, and on the hour mark it was Fishlock who scored the equaliser as she slotted the ball past Christensen from close-range. It was a deserved return from the confident and positive approach from Grainger's side that left the visitors visibly rattled as they struggled to regain their previous momentum.
Kayleigh Green made her 50th appearance for Cymru against Canada and showed enough energy to suggest she could earn another 50 caps as she put in the hard yards to press the Danish defence. The visitors made multiple changes in an attempt to restore their lead, but it was Cymru that were clearly in the ascendency as the game finished all square.
The decision to move Ingle into midfield on a permanent basis is dependent upon finding her defensive replacement, and Josie Green made a strong case with a solid display which was complimented by her composure against talented opposition. This was just one of a number of individual and collective positives to take from these two games which clearly mark the start of an exciting new era for Cymru under the new manager.
Cymru XI: O'Sullivan (GK), Evans, Ingle (c), R. Roberts, J. Green, James, K. Green, Fishlock, Harding, Rowe, Holland. Substitutes: Clark (GK), Soper (GK), Filbey, Ward, Williams, Hughes, Estcourt, B. Roberts, Woodham, Jones, Walters, Francis-Jones, F. Morgan, E. Morgan, Nolan.
Goals: Fishlock (60).
Denmark XI: Christensen (GK), Sevecke, Boye, Christiansen, Snerle, Harder (c), Veje, S. Larsen, Junge, Sorensen, Thrige. Substitutes: Svane (GK), K. Larsen (GK), Holdt, Troelsgaard, Thogersen, Holmgaard, Moller, Svava, Kuhl, Hasbo, Gevitz.
Goals: Harder (24).
Referee: Stacey Pearson (England)
Assistants: Melissa Burgin & Emily Carney (England)
Fourth Official: Kirsty Dowle (England)