Fans breathed a sigh of relief today; as Wales Captain, Leah Wilkinson lead her team onto the pitch for their third pool match game against South Africa. A game Wilkinson and Head Coach, Kevin Johnson feared she wouldn’t make after she sustained quite a serious eye injury during the teams last match against England.
With the sun beating down on the teams unapologetically; the game got off to a solid start for both sides, seeing several penalty corners across the teams during the first quarter but neither able to capitalise.
Wales felt the brunt of a fast and clinical South African side when they opened the scoring with the first goal of the game towards the end of the second quarter. During the dying seconds of the first half, Tina Evans; a crucial figure for Wales’ defence, threw out a second strike at the goals by South Africa, in a heart jolting moment.
A jubilant South Africa snatched a second quick fire goal with just under 5 minutes left of the third quarter; a goal Wales aimed to balance out with two late penalty corners during both the third and final quarter but to no avail. The game ended 2-0 to South Africa.
Sharing her disappointment at what the team hoped would be a stronger game, Captain Leah Wilkinson:
We’re really disappointed with the result today. The fact the we’re all so disappointed shows how far we’ve come; facing a team ranked 14th in the world and we’re upset to have not secured a result. We’re looking forward to taking on Malaysia now. We’re in a fortunate position as we played them last year in Kuala Lumpur so we’ve taken lessons from that time.
Reflecting on the game, Head Coach Kevin Johnson:
I am pleased again that we have been competitive in this match but we all as a group feel slightly disappointed that when we have had periods and phases of positive play with the ball we were unable to create meaningful consistent goal chances. I felt the difference between the two sides today was in both circles, credit to South Africa for taking their chances well whilst being difficult for us to break down in their defensive end. We will learn from this experience though and remain determined to deliver better quality in our remaining games.
Photo credit: Getty Images