Wales scored an impressive 7 goals against Ukraine in their second to last match of the EuroHockey Championships II.
Head coach Kevin Johnson is proud of his team, as he states:
I am very pleased with our response today after the disappointment of narrowly missing out on a semi-final place! We were determined to play to our principles and we delivered under pressure. Credit to Ukraine who threw everything at us and put us under pressure for spells, but again we came away from those spells determined to be on the front foot and scored some excellent open play goals in the final quarter to seal the victory. We are now determined to take this momentum and finish strong tomorrow in our final game!Kevin Johnson, Wales Women Head Coach
From the off Wales dominated on the pitch and didn’t give Ukraine’s defence a chance to pause as they slotted in 3 goals in the first quarter. #2 Sian French got the first points on the board with a penalty stroke, which gave Wales the confidence for the upcoming penalty corners, where #17 Captain Leah Wilkinson made it 2-0 from a penalty corner at 4’, shortly followed by #21 Xenna Hughes hitting the back board to make it 3-0 by 10’. When Ukraine managed to get through Wales’ first line of defence to take a shot on target, it was well deflected by Goalkeeper #1 Rose Thomas.
Ukraine tried to beat Wales’ defence by throwing aerials, but Wales’ defence received them with ease after it was common practice when they played against Poland on Wednesday.
Moving into the second quarter Ukraine came in strong as their #7 scored off of a penalty corner making it 3-1. Play began to even out as both teams took shots on goal, with Rose Thomas making another quality save from Ukraine’s penalty corner. Ukraine began to stick to the right wing for the majority of their play enabling Wales to predict their plays early doors and intercept the ball. In the 24th minute #17 Leah Wilkinson was given a yellow card yet Ukraine failed to get another goal despite being a player up.
HALF TIME: WALES 3-1 UKRAINE
Coming back from half time Wales were a player down as #8 Sarah Jones was given a green card but the pressure didn’t faze #27 Joanne Westwood, as she capitalised off of a penalty corner to further the gap between the teams making it 4-1 to Wales at 35’.
At 39’ Ukraines Yana Vorushylo was handed green card and minutes later at 43’, Wales’ #2 Julie Whiting was also given a green card. The game picked up pace as Ukraine’s dangerous counter attack pressed Wales and led to two goals in two minutes off of two penalty corners, from Ukraine’s #22 Olha Honcharenko making it 4-3.
As the third quarter came to an end, the clouds began to cluster above Wales as Ukraine edged closer to a comeback. It wasn’t to last though, as at 51’ #6 Sophie Robinson scored a blinder from the field to make it 5-3 as Wales took advantage of Ukraine’s high press by getting players in behind their defence.
Ukraine began to crumble under Wales’ pressure as Ukraine’s #11 picked up a yellow card at 53’ whilst Wales thrived in the tense environment, as #21 Xenna Hughes picked up Wales’ 6th goal moments later as her second goal of the match.
In the closing minute, Wales’ #5 Natasha Marke-Jones put Wales’ 7th and final goal of the match across the line to conclude an intense and goal-packed fourth quarter.
FULL TIME: WALES 7 – 3 UKRAINE
Xenna Hughes, who scored 2 goals in the match, was elated with the performance, as she stated:
We are very happy with the win. We had to improve from a disappointing result against Poland. Hence why we are thrilled to get on the score sheet seven times as a team. I am pleased to have contributed myself with two goals!!Xenna Hughes, Wales Player #21
Wales will play their final match on Saturday 10th August 2019.