England 2 (Nobbs 48, Duggan 57)
2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification – UEFA Group 6
October 26, 2013
When this World Cup qualifier took place seven years ago, Wales were seen very much as second fiddle and bit-part players but what should never be forgotten was the performance of an Anglesey-raised goalkeeper for the visitors.
Shown live by the BBC from The Den, Millwall, this week in 2013, England made it three straight victories in Group 6, but had to work hard to break down a resolute Welsh defence with gloveswoman Nicola Davies simply outstanding.
The former Liverpool and Bangor City stopper, who hails from Menai Bridge, produced a series of stunning and brave reaction saves, with the hosts having to wait until the second half to break the deadlock.
There was further reason for North Wales to be proud with the second-half appearance of Penyffordd’s Hannah Keryakoplis, then of Liverpool, who breathed some late life into what had been a restrained Welsh attack.
Jordan Nobbs and Toni Duggan fired England to victory as Brent Hills preserved his 100 per cent record as caretaker-manager.
On the night of the Football Association’s 150th anniversary celebrations, England’s women, a team that only came under the FA’s control in 1993, showed patience and the chances did come.
Wales defended with tenacity in the first half as England threatened.
Steph Houghton saw a free-kick pushed for a corner while the playmaker Karen Carney forced Nicola Davies to turn an audacious 35-yard chip over the bar.
The Arsenal combination of Alex Scott, Nobbs and Ellen White combined skilfully just before half-time.
The right-back Scott, venturing forward, cut the ball back to Nobbs and her floated pass forward almost landed on the head of White, but the Welsh goalkeeper Davies was swiftly off her line.
Davies had to be equally sharp just a minute later when Eniola Aluko crossed from the right towards the far post where Carney, straining to reach the ball, put in a firm header that the goalkeeper brilliantly blocked.
Wales were hindered by an arm injury suffered by their captain Jess Fishlock early on.
She was bandaged up and courageously continued but she was clearly in discomfort and replaced in the second half.
The Welsh resistance lasted until the 48th minute when Scott’s scuffed shot ran kindly for Nobbs, and her clever looping shot from 15 yards went over Davies’ head and into the net.
It was 2-0 nine minutes later as Duggan cracked a fine low shot into the bottom left corner from 15 yards.
Fishlock was substituted, before Wales momentarily threatened when Helen Ward drilled a low shot wide of the right post from 20 yards.
England went on to win all 10 group matches to qualify with ease for Canada 2015.
Wales also did well, finishing third in the group with six wins and a draw, their only defeats coming against England (twice) and Ukraine.
Keryakoplis scored in a 3-0 success in Montenegro.
Fishlock was Wales’ leading scorer in the group with six – two hat-tricks.
England: Bardsley; Scott, Bronze, Williams, Houghton, Stoney, Aluko (Scott 62), Nobbs, White (Dowie 74), Carney, Duggan (Clarke 74).
Wales: N Davies; Dykes, Bleazard, K Davies, Ingle, Fishlock (Green 58), James, Ladd, Ward, Wiltshire (Keryakoplis 78), Harding (Hawkins 46).
Referee was the excellent Stéphanie Frappart of France.
Nicola Davies is now retired from full-time football, but the RAF servicewoman appeared for Ynys Môn in the 2019 Inter-Island Games, where her excellent displays helped the hosts make it all the way to the final.
Nicola, 34, has earned 64 full caps for Wales.
While with Liverpool, she won the Northern Premier Division in 2003–04 and 2006–07.
After playing for Liverpool in 2012, Davies was named FA WSL goalkeeper of the year.
She later turned out for Chelsea, Reading, Doncaster Rovers Belles and Sheffield United.
Hannah Keryakoplis is still banging in the goals for Derby County in the tier 3 FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division.
The 26-year-old netted 19 goals in 18 matches for the Ewe Rams in last season’s curtailed campaign and before that bagged 58 goals in 84 appearances for Stoke City.
She represented both Liverpool and Birmingham City in the Women’s Super League, and the latter in the Uefa Champions League.
Hannah has won 20 caps for Wales.