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Wales foiled by second half fightback
 Women's Football News 13 Nov 2008
Wales foiled by second half fightback - 13 Nov 2008 - Women's Football NewsDespite an impressive first half display, Wales went down to a 2-1 defeat to Finland in the first of their double header of friendlies at Carmarthen.
Helen Lander gave Adrian Tucker's side a first half lead but the Finns' greater experience and strength told after the break as they scored twice to turn a well contested match in their favour.
Emma Jones captained the side in the absence of Jayne Ludlow and Helen Lander won her second cap as a lone striker with Jessica Fishlock in an attacking midfield role. Loren Dykes returned to the starting line up in place of the injured Gwennan Harries and Sally Wade was given a start at right back.
Wales started the game very promisingly and passed the ball around confidently but, despite winning some early corners, found themselves up against a tough Finland defence.
Indeed it was the Finns who had the first opening as Nicola Davies failed to hold on to a cross from Miia Niemi and Annica Sjolund's shot was deflected past the post. Davies was to make amends just seven minutes later though as she touched a 30-yard drive from Jessica Julin onto the post.
This seemed to spur Wales into action and they took the lead in the 24th minute. Jessica Fishlock threaded a superb through ball into the path of Helen Lander who confidently buried her shot past Tinja-Riika Korpela and into the corner of the net.
Wales continued to play some neat passing football with Fishlock pulling the strings in her role behind the lone striker and Loren Dykes looking very sharp on the right. Cheryl Foster had a free kick charged down and Wales could have had a penalty as Kerrie Manley appeared to be fouled off the ball from a free kick but they were fully deserving of their lead going into half time.
However all of Wales' good work in the first half was undone after just 16 seconds of play from the restart. Finland immediately went on the attack and Essi Sainio crossed from the right for Sjolund to beat Davies with a looping header for the equaliser.
The goal visibly rattled the Welsh side and Sjolund could have scored again a minute later as Emma Jones was unable to deal with a Linda Sallstrom cross and the tall striker poked the ball over the bar at full stretch.
Sallstrom sent a powerful header straight at Davies but a minute later, Finland were in front for the first time. Sallstrom floated in a corner from the left and Sjolund rose above two defenders to plant her header home.
Sjolund volleyed a hat-trick chance over the bar from a Sainio cross and Anne Makinen hit the side netting from a corner, but Wales began to gather themselves once more. Although it took a great save from Davies at the other end to prevent Sainio from increasing Finland's lead, Wales were to go close as Manley drilled a shot inches wide from the edge of the area.
Wales brought on Emma Plewa for her senior debut and the speedy winger impressed with a 50-yard run which ended with her shot being deflected just wide. Wales threw players forward to try and get the goal they craved but, despite winning a number of corners and free kicks, the powerful Finnish defence stood firm and they could never carve out a clear opportunity.
Susanna Lehtinen sent a late chance wide for Finland but Wales will have learned much from this match and they have a chance to put things right when they face the same opponents at Port Talbot on Friday.
Wales: Nicola Davies, Sally Wade (sub Carla Parfitt 80mins), Natalie Holt, Kerrie Manley, Emma Jones, Katie Daley, Loren Dykes (sub Jo Edwards 84mins), Michelle Green, Helen Lander, Jessica Fishlock, Cheryl Foster (sub Emma Plewa 64mins). Subs not used: Rhian Nokes, Emily Hancock, Lauren Townsend, Alicia Powe.

Finland: Tinja-Riika Korpela, Petra Vaelma, Jessica Julin, Maija Saari, Miia Niemi (sub Tuija Hyyrynen 90mins), Tiina Salmen, Anne Makinen, Nina Hietanen (sub Susanna Lehtinen 64mins), Essi Sainio, Linda Sallstrom (sub Leena Puranen 71mins), Annica Sjolund (sub Katri Nokso-Koivisto 81mins). Subs not used: Minna Meriluoto, Anna-Kaisa Rantanen, Jaana Lyytikainen, Anna Westerlund, Heidi Lindstrom.

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