Kayleigh Green’s first-half penalty proved to be the difference as Cymru began 2023 with a 1-0 win over the Philippines in their opening game of the Pinatar Cup.
The striker fired Gemma Grainger’s side ahead on the stroke of half time after Dominique Randle fouled Rhiannon Roberts in the penalty area.
Cymru had further chances to add to their lead with Rachel Rowe enjoying a good opportunity in the first half. They couldn’t find a second but always looked in control and Green’s penalty was enough to secure victory in the first meeting between the two countries.
Grainger handed goalkeeper Safia Middleton-Patel her first start for Cymru, while Ceri Holland returned to the starting line up after missing out on the last trip to Pinatar in February due to injury. Hannah Cain and Esther Morgan returned to the matchday squad and were named on the bench following long-term injuries of their own.
Cymru had to deal with the high winds against them in the opening half in Murcia but dominated possession and could have had a penalty with eight minutes on the clock. Angharad James was first to a loose ball in the penalty area before being brought down by Jessika Cowart, but the referee allowed play to continue.
Rowe then went close with a powerful effort from close range which brought the first save out of Philippines goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel, who reacted well to push the ball to safety.
Cymru continued to threaten throughout the first half and took the lead with the final kick of the half from the penalty spot. Referee Lucie Sulcova was unmoved by the challenge on James earlier in the half but there was no question when Dominique Randle brought down Roberts. Green stepped up to take the spot-kick and made no mistake after sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.
It was a quiet opening half to Middleton-Patel’s first senior start but she was forced into a save two minutes after the restart when substitute Katrina Guillou turned in the area and shot at goal.
Rowe had played a key role in helping earn the penalty and her pass to Holland almost led to Cymru doubling their advantage inside the 69th minute. Holland drove inside from the left wing and fired towards the far corner, only to see McDaniel tip the ball beyond the post.
Sophie Ingle’s cutback then found Rowe, whose shot towards goal was deflected marginally wide of the near post by defender Hali Long. While substitute Cain then hit the side netting following her introduction just after the hour mark and then went close again late on after a scramble in the area.
Cymru will face Iceland in their second match of the tournament on Saturday.
Cymru: Safia Middleton-Patel, Lily Woodham, Gemma Evans, Hayley Ladd, Rhiannon Roberts (Charlie Estcourt 66’), Sophie Ingle (C), Angharad James, Rachel Rowe, Carrie Jones (Hannah Cain 66’), Ceri Holland, Kayleigh Green (Elise Hughes 86′).
Subs not used: Laura O’Sullivan, Josie Green, Helen Ward, Olivia Clark, Georgia Walters, Megan Wynne, Anna Filbey, Esther Morgan.
Philippines: Olivia McDaniel, Dominique Randle, Hali Long, Tahnai Annis (C) (Meryll Serrano 64’), Isabelle Flanigan (Katrina Guillou 45’), Sara Eggesvik, Carleigh Frilles (Anicka Castaneda 64’), Sofia Harrison, Alicia Barker (Malea Cesar 64’), Jessika Cowart (Kaya Hawkinson 82’), Quinley Quezada (Eva Madarang 45’).
Subs not used: Inna Palacios, Kiara Fontanilla, Kathleen Rodriguez, Reina Bonta, Kaya Hawkinson, Maya Alcantara.