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Solid Performance From Wales Women In Home-Nation Battle With England


IMAGE: David P McCarthy

In their final pool match of the Commonwealth Games, Wales women fought hard against a strong England side but ultimately lost 0-5 to the hosts.


With the crowd out in full force to support the home-nations, Wales really held their own in the first fifteen minutes and looked the more likely to score with several good chances, including shots from Eloise Laity and Hannah Cozens.


The best opportunity came from Amy Burton but unfortunately, she fired the pass from Cozens over the top bar.


Early in the second quarter, the first goal came for England. After a brave Beth Bingham put her face between Ellie Rayner’s shot and the goal, a penalty stroke was fired into the goal by Grace Balsdon, giving her the first of her hat-trick.


Another penalty corner for England was brilliantly deflected away from the goal by Xenna Hughes before goalkeeper Rose Thomas expertly saved a powerful strike from Lily Owsley.


Play was paused briefly in the 27th minute as Izzie Howell was forced to leave the pitch for medical treatment after taking a stick to the face.


Finishing off the exciting first half, Hannah Martin found the gap between Thomas and the post and secured England’s second goal of the game.


Earlier into the second half, Balsdon got her second of the game via another penalty corner.


With the Welsh supporters singing loudly in the crowd, Wales saw off three more shots on goal from England in the third quarter to stop England adding to their tally.


The last quarter saw constant pressure on the Welsh defence from England and resulted in their final two goals from penalty corners.


The first from Giselle Ansley found it’s way past Welsh goalie Ella Jackson. The second saw Balsdon complete her hat-trick with another penalty corner drag, taking England to five goals.


With the final pool matches played, Wales finish fourth in their pool and will take on South Africa on Friday for 7/8th place.


Speaking after the match where she made her 200th combine appearance for Wales and GB, captain Leah Wilkinson said "We were disappointed not to put some early chances away. It potentially could have been a different game - it could have put a little pressure on them [England]”.


"The difference today was set plays. That is the difference between a full-time programme where you can spend hours doing it, and maybe where we don't have so much contact time.”


"We’re proud of some of our game, but we just chucked the ball away too easily today. As a group as a whole, sometimes there’s a little bit of 'nearly there' – nearly put the ball in the goal, nearly take the lead, but don’t quite [do it]. For us tomorrow, it’s so important going into classification games, to take those opportunities."


Looking ahead to their match against South Africa tomorrow, Wilkinson added "We’ve just played three games in Cardiff against them two weeks ago, and our practice match against them here."

"In Cardiff we lost one 1-0, won one 1-0, and drew the other, so it’s going to be a tight one tomorrow.”


"That’s why we’re here, to play competitive and tight matches. That’s what we really want, to have a challenge in the last game."

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