Report: Wales 0-0 Northern Ireland – Women’s European Championship Qualifying

Wales fail to take chances and apply pressure on group leaders Norway

Wales drew 0-0 with Northern Ireland in Belfast. (Image: Matthew Lofthouse)

by Tom Pritchard

WALES failed to take their chances as they were held to a goalless draw by Northern Ireland in a low-key European Championship qualifier in Belfast.

In a game where both teams lacked a cutting edge in the final third, Wales had opportunities late on through midfielder Angharad James, who was unable to beat Rebecca Flaherty.

The result means that Wales are now four points behind group leaders Norway, having played a game more than the 2019 World Cup quarter-finalists.

Kenny Shiels’ side had chances of their own, but were unable to make them count and remain winless after their first four games of qualifying.

Wales very nearly went behind inside the first minute, when a cross from the left picked out an unmarked Simone Magill, whose header from close range was well saved by Laura O’Sullivan.

Midfielder Rachel Rowe – one of Wales’ bright sparks in the opening period – did well to beat goalkeeper Flaherty to the ball, and saw her header loop just over the crossbar.

Rowe, who plays her club football for Reading, was involved again minutes later, with her powerful shot from distance flying just wide of the right post.

Jayne Ludlow’s side were beginning to get a foothold in the game, with James the latest Welsh player to have an attempt on goal – her snapshot from just outside the area went comfortably wide.

Northern Ireland showed plenty of attacking intent in the first-half, finding space down the flanks, with the experienced Rachel Furness – a teammate of Rowe and James at Reading – heavily involved in the action.

The hosts started the second-half well. O’Sullivan was alert to deny defender Julie Nelson’s effort after the stopper had failed to clear the ball from a corner, before Ashley Hutton’s ambitious effort was watched wide.

Megan Bell’s slaloming run into the area caused Wales problems briefly, but they were able to recover and clear the threat.

The best chance of the half fell to James, who was picked out inside the area by Kayleigh Green’s squared pass. One-on-one with Flaherty, she was unable to place her shot into either corner and the Sheffield United keeper was able to deny James, who was winning her 77th cap.

If the first-half was Northern Ireland’s, the second-half was certainly Wales’, as Ludlow’s team began to play with more purpose and accuracy, causing Shiels’ side problems at the back with their quick passing and direct running.

O’Sullivan did not have too much to do after the break, but showed impressive concentration to tip Bell’s effort over the bar as both sides continued to press for a late goal.

While Wales were unable to leave the Seaview Stadium with the three points they wanted, they are still in a with a good chance of qualifying for the play-offs as one of the best second-placed sides.

O’Sullivan, Roberts, Dykes, Ingle (C), Ladd, Hughes (Evans 55′), James, J. Green, Rowe, Wynne, K. Green (Ward 82′)

Substitutes not used: Skinner, Clark, Jones, Francis-Jones, Lawrence, Nolan, Walters

Northern Ireland: Flaherty, Hutton, Nelson, Vance, Newborough (McKenna 57′), Wade, McFadden (C) (Callaghan 80′), Bell (McGuinness 82′), McCarron, Furness, Magill

Substitutes not used: Perry, Burrows, Finnegan, Kelly, McMaster, Howe, White, Caldwell