The Football Ferns have gone down 1-0 to Wales this morning (NZT) at the Cardiff International Stadium in their final warm-up game for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
The Tom Sermanni-coached team, who were looking to back up their impressive 1-0 win over England on the weekend, were frustrated by a well-organised Welsh defence and failed to take the lead when Sarah Gregorius was unable to convert a penalty in the 36th minute.
The Ferns regrouped at half-time and had a handful of scoring chances in the second-half which they did not convert and were made to pay by Wales in injury time.
From a long-range free-kick, Welsh captain Sophie Ingle headed across goal and Kayleigh Green was on hand to head home past Erin Nayler in goal from close range. It ended a long drought for the home team, it was their first goal in 12 hours of international football and clinched their first win over New Zealand.
Sermanni made four changes from the team who defeated the Lionesses at Brighton four days ago. Hannah Wilkinson, Annalie Longo, Anna Green and Olivia Chance all came into the starting line-up.
The Ferns controlled the game but failed to create clear goal-scoring opportunities. Gregorius, the goal-scorer against England, earned a penalty heading into half-time when she was taken down by defender Natasha Harding.
The experienced forward took the ball to the spot, but her shot to the left of Welsh keeper Laura O’Sullivan, a standout for the Welsh team, was well-saved in a defining moment in the game.
It was a similar story in the second half with substitutes Rosie White and Emma Kete having the best of the chances to open the scoring which they could not convert under the pressure of O’Sullivan.
The Jayne Ludlow-coached Wales got better as the game went on and took their late chance to record an important win at home as they build towards qualification for the UEFA Women’s Euro in England in 2021.
The Football Ferns will look to bounce back this week. They leave for France tomorrow morning and will take on the Netherlands in their opening game of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on 12 June (NZT) in Le Havre.