Hayley Ladd Wales

Hayley Ladd Admits New Rhian Wilkinson Era For Wales Is Posing Challenges

Hayley Ladd Admits New Rhian Wilkinson Era For Wales Is Posing Challenges

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By Hannah Blackwell

The latest Wales captain Hayley Ladd has admitted the team is suffering teething problems under new head coach Rhian Wilkinson.

Back-to-back draws against Ukraine have secured Wales a place in the Euro 2025 play-offs.

But Nicole Kozlova’s last-gasp equaliser denied Wilkinson’s team three points in their Women’s Euro 2025 qualifier against Ukraine in Poland.

Kozlova struck seven minutes into stoppage-time to earn her side a 2-2 draw that cost Wales top spot in Group B4 with two games left to play.

Wilkinson said she had hoped for six points from the games, but Wales instead finish the international break with just two and drop to second in Group B4 of Euro qualification.

“Rhian is new in her tenure. It’s about getting to know each other more and learning a new system which poses lots of different challenges,” said Ladd.

“It’s really difficult to take because I thought we were just about managing the game at the end.

“We have got to be better, put our chances away and be a little bit more in control of the game.

“Jess [Fishlock] put us ahead with an amazing shot and it’s difficult that that’s not the winner.

“Credit to Ukraine. They are so hard working and on the counter you can see they are a real threat. It’s something we have to be aware of.”

Ladd was captaining her country for the first time, as Wilkinson continued to rotate who wears the armband in this qualification campaign.

Four days after they were held to a 1-1 draw by the same team in Llanelli, Wales struggled to gain the initiative and went in at half-time a goal behind.

Yana Kalinina finished off a swift counter-attacking move to give her side a deserved 33rd-minute lead in a half in which the visitors failed to create any clear-cut chances.

Wales improved after the break and drew level on 73 minutes when Kayleigh Barton rammed home a penalty after being fouled in the box by Anna Petryk.

Two minutes later, Fishlock put her side in front with a stunning 25-yard effort that pulled her within one goal of equalling Helen Ward’s all-time record of 44 for her country.

But Wales were lucky to escape when Gemma Evans struck her own post before Kozlova’s effort earned Ukraine a point their performance deserved.

Croatia’s win over Kosovo saw Wales sink to second place in the group but two wins in their final two games will still be enough to ensure Rhian Wilkinson’s side finish top.

Captain Hayley Ladd says Wales “have got to be better” having been held to a draw by Ukraine for the second time in four days.

After a 1-1 draw at Parc y Scarlets last Friday, Wales were seconds from a 2-1 win in Poland on Tuesday but conceded in the final minute.

After wasting several early chances in the first few minutes, Wales were made to pay when Yana Kalinina added the final touch to an excellent Ukraine counter-attack to open the scoring.

As was the case in the first of the two games, Wales needed time to recover from going behind, and again it needed a Kayleigh Barton penalty to draw Wilkinson’s side level.

This time, however, Wales looked to be heading for victory when Fishlock’s 43rd goal for Wales – one behind Helen Ward’s record – put the visitors 2-1 up.

But after surviving a scare at the start of injury time when Gemma Evans’ header bounced back off her own post, Ukraine did find the back of the net courtesy of Nicole Kozlova’s thumping header.

“We will keep working and we are only at the start of our journey,” said Ladd.

“We have a long way to go in terms of fine-tuning things and making sure we are a little more potent in attack as well.

“We just want to win games for this Welsh shirt.

“We have been waiting to qualify for a major tournament but maybe it’s a stark reminder that we have just got to take it one game at a time and look to really grow our performances.

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