Wales reach World Cup play-offs in Slovenia draw

Wales held on to reach the World Cup play-offs for the first time with a 0-0 draw against Slovenia on a trying night in Cardiff.

Teenager Carrie Jones closed in on Wales with several fine efforts, while local keeper Laura O’Sullivan had to be vigilant to deny Mateja Zver.

Wales knew one point was enough to see them finish second and they kept their defensive discipline throughout.

They may have even won it, but Gemma Evans’ header was superbly saved.

It was a night Wales knew they had history at their fingertips, having never come close to qualifying for the play-offs.

It was already a night of celebration in the Welsh capital with a crowd of 12,741 who more than doubled Wales’ attendance record of 5,445.

Perhaps most importantly, Wales’ first home game of the campaign was watched by just 1,700 supporters, with the atmosphere – bolstered by the Wales fan band – as strong as it was. was for a Wales women’s game.

Wales boss Gemma Grainger opted to field the same side that won in Greece on Friday, albeit less convincingly than some of their previous performances in the campaign.

It meant their most capped player, Jess Fishlock, who suffered an injury in camp, was left on the bench in an ’emergency glass break’ scenario, while the talented teenager Jones kept her place. . after his goal in Volos.

The unchanged line-up meant Wales’ 10 outfield players were Women’s Super League players, a blessing and a curse given the top flight doesn’t kick off until the weekend.

The Wales players watched in pre-season mode in Greece, lacking the fluidity they have shown throughout this campaign and that continued to be the case in a hugely tense first half at Cardiff City Stadium.

Indeed, the visitors created more chances with hugely influential captain Zver as she put defender Rhiannon Roberts through a tough test on the night she celebrated her 50th appearance for Wales.

It was Zver who took the first shot on goal after an unusual error from Rachel Rowe, but the Slovenian fired directly at O’Sullivan in the Wales goal after a driving run.

Wales’ first effort came in the 24th minute when Jones found space on the left but Zala Mersnik saved by cutting inside.

Zver worried Wales again in the 27th minute when his hard-hitting shot hit the roof of the net, before Lara Prasnikar struck over the crossbar as more composure was needed.

Slovenia just had to keep pressing and it opened up spaces for Wales, with Ceri Holland stabbing wide past Kayleigh’s green cross.

Green then came close to giving Wales the goal they were craving, but his outstretched foot just failed to make contact with Jones’ volley through the net after Roberts’ cross.

Wales started the second half with more goals and Angharad James tested Marsnik as they looked to celebrate their 100th cap with a goal, before going provider, but Jones fired from wide.

Jones was Wales’ pivot and felt aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty when Dominika Conc appeared to foul him just at the edge of the penalty area, before testing Mersnik with a dipping, deflected effort that the Slovenian goalkeeper did well to tip. the post office.

However, at the other end the threat never dissipated for Wales with the scores deadlocked and O’Sullivan saved when Kaja Korosec struck from long range.

O’Sullivan could do nothing but hope, however, when Zver curled the ball just wide in the 73rd minute.

It was a special night for Wales, but special congratulations should go to O’Sullivan, the only amateur player in Wales’ starting XI, who conceded just five goals in 10 qualifying and saved his two best performances for clean sheets in the Wales final qualifier. .

A huge chance for Wales to lift the tension came and went in the 70th minute when Gemma Evans got up unmarked from James’ corner, but Mersnik showed incredible reflexes to fend off her header.

However, Wales held their ground and will now look forward to the play-offs with their World Cup dream still alive and well.

Alignments

Wales

Training 4-3-3

  • 1O’Sullivan
  • 5Robert
  • 14boyBooked at 77 mins
  • 3Evans
  • 13Rowe
  • 8james
  • 4English
  • 18Holland
  • 11Harding
  • 9GreenBooked at 75 minutesReplaced byMorganat 89′minutes
  • 20Jones

Substitutes

  • 2Woodham
  • 6Green
  • sevenHall
  • tenLock
  • 12clark
  • 15Hughes
  • 16Estcourt
  • 17Walter
  • 19wynne
  • 21Middleton Patel
  • 22Filbey
  • 23Morgan

Slovenia

Training 4-2-3-1

  • 1Mersnik
  • 16Erzen
  • 2golob
  • 3AppreciateBooked at 75 minutes
  • sevenErmanReplaced byKrizajat 79′minutes
  • tenconcept
  • 6Korosec
  • 14KolblBooked at 51 minsReplaced byMilovicat 68′minutes
  • 18RoganReplaced byKustrinat 68′minutes
  • 8Zver
  • 11Prasnikar

Substitutes

  • 4Gradisek
  • 5Rozmaric
  • 9Klopcic
  • 12Galjot
  • 13Kustrin
  • 15Makovec
  • 17Krizaj
  • 19Milovic
  • 20Babnik
  • 21Vindisar
  • 22Do not put

Arbitrator:
Kateryna Monzul

Presence:
12,741

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Wales reach World Cup play-offs in Slovenia draw

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