Wales Women look to end February campaign with a triumph


Gemma Grainger’s Welsh side will look to round out a reasonably successful February campaign when they battle Vera Pauw’s Ireland in the Pinatar Cup third-place play-off.

After defeating Scotland in their quarter-final last Wednesday, a much-changed side put in a spirited display against pre-tournament favourites Belgium before bowing out in a penalty shootout.

The youngsters gave a fantastic account of themselves against the world’s 20th ranked side. 20-year-old Olivia Clark acquitted herself well in only her third cap against the Belgians, keeping a clean sheet over the course of 90 minutes but there was little she could do about the spot-kicks.

Full-backs Charlie Estcourt and Lily Woodham performed admirably and were unlucky to see their penalties saved after impressing during normal time.

Further forward, a debut was given to Manchester United’s Chloe Williams in attacking midfield and she was integral to a number of Welsh attacks, linking play superbly and helping to create Wales’ best chance as Woodham’s cross was stabbed narrowly wide by substitute Megan Wynne.

Looking ahead to Tuesday’s clash, the Welsh can be optimistic as they face an Irish team that has struggled to produce their best form over the course of the tournament so far, battling to a narrow victory over Poland before losing out to Russia in their semi-final encounter in Spain.

Following the Belgium game, Grainger was delighted with the belief in the squad and described how proud she was after a fantastic performance.

“It was an unbelievable performance, it is really building belief in this group. The tournament was all about building belief and momentum and that is what we have done.

“We won our first game and drew our second against teams used to playing at major tournaments. It is such a proud moment for us as a group that our young players are stepping up and delivering in games.”

With one eye on April’s World Cup Qualifiers against France and Kazakhstan, Grainger is likely to combine the two lineups from the previous encounters when she names her side on Tuesday afternoon. The game could mark striker Helen Ward’s 99th cap for her country if she has any involvement in the fixture.

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