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Wales go down to Melis strike
 Women's Football News 21 Feb 2008
at Newport County F.C.
Wales once again found themselves on the wrong side of a one-goal scoreline as a good move and finish early in the second half proved to be the difference between two evenly matched teams at Newport.
Manager Adrian Tucker made two changes to his starting line up with Carla Parfitt and Kerrie Manley lining up in defence, in place of Kath Morgan and Nicola Cousins.
Wales found themselves down to nine players during the opening minutes as Parfitt and Manley both left the field after a collision, full back Parfitt requiring treatment which meant it was several minutes before she was able to return. However they kept things tight during that period, Annemieke Griffioen producing Holland's only attempt with a 20-yard shot which flew wide.
Much of the play remained in midfield as the two teams struggled to break down well organised defences and it wasn't until the twenty minute mark that Wales were able to conjure up their first shot on goal, Gwennan Harries cutting in from the left to shoot straight at Loes Geurts in the Dutch goal.
As the game moved towards half time, Wales produced their best spell of the match and began to put the Dutch defence under pressure. An Emma Jones free kick almost led to a Welsh breakthrough as Jayne Ludlow challenged Marloes de Boer and the ball fell loose for Cheryl Foster who hooked her shot over the bar. Barely a minute later, Jones flighted another dangerous free kick into the Holland penalty area and Ludlow climbed high but her header flew straight at Geurts.
Wales had finished the first half well but were hit by a hammer blow within two minutes of the restart. Holland had only managed one shot on goal in the first half but Karin Stevens broke strongly down the right and her low cross picked out Gabriella Melis who gave Nicola Davies no chance with a firm strike which found the corner of the net.
Stung by the setback, Wales tried to hit back straight away and almost levelled the scores as Harries whipped in a good cross from the left and Jessica Fishlock volleyed her shot inches past the post with Geurts beaten.
Holland were looking more dangerous as an attacking force and a cross from Griffioen flashed across the face of goal following a good pass from Melis and a good clearance from Manley thwarted another attack.
Another well crafted setpiece presented a chance for Wales to equalise at the other end, after being awarded a free kick 25 yards from goal, Harries slid a low pass into the area but Loren Dykes' shot was just off target.
Wales manager Adrian Tucker brought on Eleri Earnshaw and Jo Edwards to increase his strike force but, despite their efforts, his team could not break down an experienced and physically strong Dutch defence and a number of strong challenges helped keep them at bay.
Anna van den Heiligenberg fired a shot over the bar after Manley had headed a corner clear and Holland twice went close as the match went into injury time. Nangila van Eyck drilled a 25-yard shot just wide and the same player was denied by a fine save from Davies, who came out to block after she had raced clear, the ball was returned across goal but was met with a good clearance by Nicola Cousins.
It was a frustrating night overall for Wales who once again defended well against renowned opposition with Natalie Holt impressing at left back and matching their opponents for most of the game. Worse news came as harsh first half bookings for captain Ludlow and the hard working Fishlock ruled both key midfielders out of their next match with Switzerland through suspension and a change of fortune is overdue.
Wales: Nicola Davies, Carla Parfitt (sub Nicola Cousins 77mins), Natalie Holt, Kerrie Manley, Emma Jones, Michelle Green (sub Eleri Earnshaw 65mins), Loren Dykes, Jayne Ludlow, Cheryl Foster (sub Jo Edwards 74mins), Jessica Fishlock, Gwennan Harries. Subs not used: Kath Morgan, Katie Williams, Charlotte Miller, Rhian Nokes.

Holland: Loes Geurts, Dyanne Bito, Elisabeth Migchelsen, Marloes de Boer, Daphne Koster, Anouk Hoogendijk, Annemieke Griffioen, Kirsten van de Ven (sub Sherida Spitse 45mins), Gabriella Melis (sub Nangila van Eyck 65mins), Karin Stevens, Anna van den Heiligenberg (sub Sylvia Smit 89mins). Subs not used: Janna Torny, Roos Kwakkenbos, Karin Legemate, Petra Durgardein.

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