Jayne Ludlow insists her Wales team will be a tough nut to crack in their forthcoming World Cup campaign – despite their thrashing by the Netherlands.
The Wales women were taught a harsh lesson in Rotterdam at the weekend as the Dutch warmed-up for the European Championships with a 5-0 romp.
Wales arrived buoyed by a 2-1 win over European Championship finalists Portugal last month, but with four regular starters missing from their line-up it was always going to be a difficult task.
“We met a team ranked much higher than us in the World who had been together in camp for a month and who are in peak condition coming into a home championships,” said Ludlow.
“It was always going to be a tough ask for us, especially as we were missing four starters and I’d had to call half of my team off the beach to play. But I was never going to turn down an opportunity like this fixture for our players.
“This experience will aid our upcoming World Cup campaign, when we have to face two teams, England (5th) and Russia (25th), who are ranked well above us. This is where the girls want to get to and this is the only way they can experience that.
“How better to build towards a major competition. When we play teams of this calibre in the next year we have to make sure that things that didn’t go right for us here in Holland have to right in the future.”
Ludlow took the game to give her side some early exposure to a top ranked team ahead of their World Cup qualifying campaign which begins in 10 weeks time. Having played two games in Portugal last month, and experienced a weekend of action in Holland – there is a ‘B’ friendly today – the Welsh team will be back on the road again when they head to Kazakhstan for their opening game in Group 1 on 17 September.
They also have to face Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as deadly rivals England in Group 1 and Ludlow can enter the campaign having blooded a number of new players, including some highly talented teenagers.
The Welsh goal was under siege in the opening exchanges and it took all the expertise of Cardiff City’s Laura O’Sullivan in the visitor’s goal to keep the home attackers at bay. She made a great save from a corner, frustrated the Liverpool danger woman Shanice van de Sanden but was left helpless when Lieke Martens went on a brilliant solo run from wide out on the left touchline, cut inside and beat two Welsh defenders before hammering the ball into the right corner from the edge of the area.
O’Sullivan then thwarted Vivianne Miedema before Danielle van de Donk added a second goal on the half-hour. Wales did well to hold on without conceding any more before half-time, but a cross from Van der Sanden was met by Miedema to make it 3-0 just before the hour mark.
A was a real slog for the final 30 minutes as the slide rule passing of the Dutch, allied to the width they were able to put on their game, stretched the Welsh formation to breaking point. The fourth goal was scored by the Arsenal Ladies star Miedema for her second and the fifth and final goal was calamitous from a Welsh point of view.
Hayley Ladd conceded a free kick 40 yards out on the left and the cross into the box from home skipper Mandy van den Berg went into the danger zone and bounced over O’Sullivan and into the net without anyone touching it.
Goals: Netherlands: Martens 12, Van der Donk 28, Miedema 57 & 76, Van den Berg 87.
Netherlands: Van Veenendaal (Arsenal); Van Es (FC Twente), Van den Berg (Reading, captain), Dekker (Montpellier), Van Lunteren (Ajax); Spitse (FC Twente), Van de Donk (Arsenal), Groenen (Frankfurt); Martens (Rosengard), Miedema (Arsenal), Van de Sanden (Liverpool)
Subs Used: Jansen (FC Twente) on for Martens 73; Lewerissa (PSV) on for Miedema 78.
Not Used: Christ (PSV), Geurts (PSG), Van der Griegt (Ajax), Roord (Bayern Munich); Folkertsma (Ajax), Zeeman (Ajax), Van den Bulk (Djurgårdens), Jansen (Arsenal), Beerensteyn (Bayern Munich), Van der Most (Ajax)
Wales: O’Sullivan (Cardiff City); Ingle (Liverpool, captain), Evans (Cardiff City), Dykes (Bristol City), Ladd (Bristol City), Lawrence (Yeovil), James (Yeovil), Fletcher (Reading), Green (Yeovil), Harding (Liverpool), Chivers (Cardiff City)
Subs Used: Morgan(Cardiff City) on for Chivers 59; Thomas (Brighton) on for Lawrence 65; Miles (Cardiff City) for Dykes 68; Vincze (Oklahoma) for Green 82;
Not Used: Skinner (Aston Villa); Roberts (Doncaster), Evans (Bristol City)
Yellow Card: Thomas 90.
Referee: Lois Citte (Belgium)
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