Late Ladd Goal Wins it for Wales

The scene at Cardiff City Stadium. (Photo: Fairwater Girls FC)

Wales continued their fine start to the World Cup qualifying campaign with a 1-0 win over Kazakhstan on Friday, reports faw,cymru.

Hayley Ladd’s second-half free-kick was the difference between the two sides as Wales remain top of Group 1.

A dominant performance from Jayne Ludlow’s side saw them enjoy much of the possession, as Kazakhstan struggled to get a foothold in the game.

The first real chance fell to Wales as Alice Griffiths’ effort sailed just wide of Oksana Zheleznyak’s post.

The Kazakhstan goalkeeper was forced into making another save moments later as Hayley Ladd’s curling free-kick was pushed wide for a corner.

Wales continued to press for the opening goal as Natasha Harding’s neat touch found Jess Fishlock on the edge of the area, although her effort was dealt with well by Zhelezynak.

A strong challenge from Griffiths paved the way for another chance for the hosts midway through the first-half, as her dipping effort from the edge of the area forced another save from Zhelezynak.

Wales came closest to breaking the dead-lock through Angharad James, who’s low range strike was parried by Zhelezynak before eventually going behind for a goal-kick.

While Zhelezynak was kept busy throughout the first-half, her opposite number Laura O’Sullivan had a quiet opening period.

Despite dominating possession throughout the first-half, both sides headed into the interval with the score line goalless.

Jayne Ludlow sent on Nadia Lawrence during the break as her side went in search of the opening goal.

Wales started the second-half in the same way they ended the first and went close early on.

James was at the heart of the move once again, as she found space on the edge of the area, but her volley sailed over the crossbar and out for a goal-kick.

Kazakhstan earned their first corner of the game 10 minutes into the second-half, and despite causing problems in the area, Aida Gaistenova’s set-piece was dealt with by the Wales defence.

Ludlow looked to all-time leading goal-scorer Helen Ward to get the goal Wales craved, as she replaced Loren Dykes with 30 minutes remaining.

Despite Wales’ constant pressure, the Kazakhstan defence held firm to keep them at bay.

The visitors’ Karina Zhumabaikyzy was awarded a yellow card for a rash challenge on Ladd, as Wales began to frustrate the Kazakhstan defence.

From the resulting free-kick, a scramble in the area saw the ball fall to Harding, but she failed to direct her effort on target from close range.

After a slick move down the left wing, Ladd’s cross found the path of James, who’s shot cannoned off the post as Wales went in search of a late winner.

The dead-lock was finally broken with seven minutes remaining as Ladd’s curling free-kick evaded everyone in the area and found the far corner.

Ludlow’s side went close to doubling their lead minutes later as Ward’s ball across the face of goal went just behind substitute Chloe Chivers in the area.

A dominant performance from Wales sees them remain top of Group 1 in their bid to qualify for their first World Cup finals.

Wales now turn their attention to Tuesday afternoon as they take on Bosnia and Herzegovina in Zenica.

WALES: O’Sullivan, Dykes (Ward 61’), Ingle (c), Roberts, Harding, James (Chivers 78’), Green (Lawrence 45’), Fishlock, Rowe, Ladd, Griffiths.

KAZAKHSTAN: Zheleznyak, Gaistenova (Vlassova 90’), Nurusheva, Khojasheva (Demidova 65’), Kirgizbaeva (C), Krasyukova, Vyldanova, Karibayeva (Turlybekova 82’), Bortnikova, Babshuk, Zhumabaikyzy.

Attendance: 3,165.