29 October 2009
SUBSTITUTE Yvonne Treacy capped a splendid comeback for the Republic of Ireland Women's team in Taldykorgan today (Thursday) as they picked up three valuable World Cup qualifying points against Kazakhstan.
Noel King's charges were looking to recover from Sunday's 3-0 defeat in Russia and got the desired outcome, despite conceding the opener after only six minutes.
Stephanie Roche, making her first competitive senior start, brought Ireland level on 65 minutes before Arsenal defender Treacy, a first-half replacement for the injured Stefanie Curtis, fired home the winning goal five minutes later.
Ireland will be delighted to have completed the double over Kazakhstan, having beaten them 2-1 in Cork last month. The Irish have one remaining game away from home in the group next March when they travel to take on Israel before completing the campaign with three home matches in a row against Switzerland, Russia and Israel.
Poor finishing against Kazakhstan threatened to spoil Ireland's dominant share of possession in the first half as they found themselves trailing at the break.
Two minutes after Irish striker Aine O'Gorman had been thwarted by goalkeeper Irina Saratovtseva as she broke free on goal, the home side took a sixth minute lead against the run of play.
Straight from an Irish attack that broke down, Kazakhstan punished them by launching a counter-attack and the pace of striker Mariya Yalova allowed her to race clear of Ciara Grant and beat goalkeeper Emma Byrne with a low angled shot from just inside the area.
O'Gorman continued to cause havoc up front for the visitors and forced a superb tip-over from Saratovtseva with a shot four minutes before the break.
Ireland remained the more adventurous of the sides in the second half with the pace of Julieanne Russell, a half-time substitute for Marie Curtin, creating a constant source of chances from the left-wing.
The Kazakhstan goalkeeper was again called into action twice in the space of five minutes to deny long-range efforts by Ciara Grant.
But there was nothing she could do on 65 minutes when Ireland grabbed a deserved equaliser. Russell skipped past her marker on the left flank and Stephanie Roche was first to react to the cross by striking a shot off the underside of the crossbar and over the line.
Buoyed with that leveller, Ireland pressed for another goal which duly arrived five minutes later. Aine O'Gorman's corner from the right found Ciara Grant whose cushioned header was diverted into the net by her Arsenal teammate Yvonne Treacy.
Ireland saw out the match and, apart from Byrne being called into action once to deal with a half-chance 15 minutes from time, were untroubled in the closing stages.
Manager Noel King was relieved to see his charges secure their second victory of the qualifying series.
He said: "Getting the three points away from home is valuable in terms of our progress in the group.
"We came through a tough game against a strong Kazakhstan team and it's testament to the players' professionalism that they concluded their most arduous ever away trip on a positive note.
"I was happy with how we dominated possession and pressurised them but again, our inability to put away some clearcut chances at this level, could have cost us.
"The fact that a debutant, Julieanne Russell, came on to play a big part in our equaliser for Stephanie Roche, who was making her first senior start, highlights how much our team is in transition. That process will take time to gel but the pair of them, along with another newcomer today, Shannon McDonnell, more than held their own."
Republic of Ireland: Emma Byrne, Mary Therese McDonnell, Niamh Fahey, Marie Curtin, Stefanie Curtis, Ciara Grant, Sonya Hughes, Aine O'Gorman, Kate Taylor, Shannon Marie McDonnell, Stephanie Roche.
Subs: Yvonne Treacy for Curtis (19 mins), Julieanne Russell for Curtin (46 mins), Jemma Connor for Hughes (90 mins).
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