Glasgow City Ladies forward Jane Ross scored her 10th international goal as Scotland Women twice battled back from a goal down to secure a 2-2 with Wales in a thrilling encounter at Tynecastle.
Anna Signeul’s side got their first UEFA Women’s Euro 2013 qualifier at the new home of the women’s national team off to the worst start as they quickly fell behind through a sensational Welsh counter attack.
From a Scotland corner after just four minutes, Chelsea forward Helen Lander picked up a loose ball in her own box, and led a Welsh box-to-box charge. Ifeoma Dieke’s failed clearance from Lander’s cross fell to the feet of Cardiff City midfielder Amie Lea whose shot deflected off the unfortunate Apollon Limassol defender and looped over goalkeeper Gemma Fay.
With growing confidence, Jarmo Matikainen’s side could have been doubled their lead just minutes later, but Lander fired wide.
With the game flowing from end to end and both teams committing midfielders forward, Scotland equalised on 19 minutes when Arsenal’s Jennifer Beattie picked out Jane Ross with a defence-splitting through ball, and the City forward produced a cool finish past the onrushing Nicola Davies.
Bristol Academy’s Helen Bleazard had a chance to put Wales ahead again as both sides continued to push, but her effort sailed over the bar, before Lander was found through on goal on 26 minutes, rounding Fay, before slotting home from a narrow angle despite the best efforts of Glasgow City captain Rachel Corsie.
Despite some hesitation from the Austrian referee, her assistant on the far side was on hand to award the goal, much to the chagrin of the majority of the 1,326 spectators inside Tynecastle.
Scotland searched for an equaliser, but were met with stubborn resistance from a well-organised Welsh defence which stood up to a barrage of attack for 43 minutes against Women’s World Cup semi-finalists France just five days earlier.
Again, like the game against France, Wales conceded just before the interval as Glasgow City defender Emma Fernon picked up the ball 25 yards from goal, and her cross found former Celtic defender Beattie who was able to flick a header past Davies with just a minute of the half remaining.
After a non-stop first half, the pace was even more relentless after the interval as both sides went in search of a winner, but with Scotland by far the more dangerous in front of goal.
Another Beattie header was tipped away by Davies, before the Rochdale keeper had to claw away a dangerous corner from Celtic’s Megan Sneddon.
Unable to find the crucial breakthrough, Signeul brought on Jo Love for her club team-mate Leanne Ross, and the City midfielder came close to delivering after cruising past Welsh left-back Sophie Ingle, but a well-timed interception from Kylie Davies prevented Love from getting a shot on goal.
Scotland continued to press, but the Welsh backline, marshalled by captain Jayne Ludlow, and in debt to the impressive Nicola Davies, held firm to the last second of stoppage time as a Beattie header flew just over the bar.
Speaking to The Journal after the game, Anna Signeul said: “[It was] very disappointing, maybe not the performance as much as the result, you really can’t start games like that, that’s really not good enough.
“I think it looked like at the beginning of the game they wanted to win it more than we did, but I think we showed some good character.”
“We knew it would be tough. I also knew that we wouldn’t score so many goals, because they’re quite narrow and tight, and I watched them against France, but I thought we would win because I think we’re better than them, and I think we showed that.
“If we’d played like we did in the last 20 minutes for the whole game, then we would have won the game," she added.
Signeul’s side must wait until the last day of March to resume their qualifying campaign in France, before hosting the Republic of Ireland five days later, but will travel to Larnaca at the end of February to take part in the annual Cyprus Cup.