Swiss test gives valuable experience
Switzerland 1 - 0 Republic of Ireland
Debut for Cherelle Khassal
Republic of Ireland women's team continued their preparations for the upcoming UEFA Qualifiers in Cork on June 16th and 21st with a friendly international against Switzerland. Although suffering a 1-0 defeat, there were many positives ahead of the vital qualifiers versus Wales and Scotland.
In the blistering midday heat in Stadium Niedermatten, Wohlen the girls in green took the field eager to put into practice all that was done on the training ground in the build up to the game.
Early pressure from the Swiss led to a corner which was dealt with comfortably by the Irish defence. At the other end Ireland struggled to put their stamp on the game; however, Denise O'Sullivan continued to put pressure on the Swiss defence with her tireless work rate.
The first shot on target came through a slick Swiss move when Zumbühl's layoff to Bürki on the edge of the box was safely dealt with by Eve Badana, making her 2nd appearance for Ireland.
Moments later the Swiss were on the attack again, this time Crnogorcevic's snap shot from the edge of the box was brilliantly tipped over by Badana.
Switzerland were clearly dominating in the early stages and had numerous half chances, but the Irish defence of Fahey, Tracy, Quinn and Campbell stood firm and with Badana in confident form it was going to take something special for the Swiss to get the breakthrough.
It was after the quarter hour mark when Ireland finally started to settle. Campbell's ball through the Swiss defence set Aine O'Gorman through down the wing, her first time cross was headed goal ward by Shannon Smyth, only to be denied the opening goal by a brilliant save from Oehrli.
This spurred Ireland into action and they continued to have a good spell in the game. O'Sullivan was a constant thorn in the side of the Swiss defenders. On one occasion her pressure forced Oehrli to spill the ball but there were no green jerseys on hand to capitalize.
Switzerland had their moments late on in the half. A deflected pass through the Irish defence allowed Bürki to cross deep to the back post. Crnogorcevic acrobatically drove it goal bound, however Niamh Fahey bravely blocked the effort. Bachmann was in action shortly after, on two seperate occasions. First hitting the crossbar and then her driving run at the heart of the defence led to a thundering shot that Badana gathered at the second attempt.
Badana was again called into action as a dangerous free kick was sent deep into the six yard box, however the confident Irish keeper calmly rose above the Swiss attackers and collected the ball to relieve the pressure from her team mates.
At the start of the second half, several changes were made as head coach, Sue Ronan, made full use of her squad. On came Stephanie Roche, Julie Ann Russell, Diane Caldwell and Michelle O'Brien for O'Sullivan, Curtin, O'Gorman and Littlejohn
Ireland were caught napping and got punished for it. A ball over the top which wasn't dealt with in the same manner as the first half allowed Bachmann to show why she's one of the top strikers in Europe at the moment.
Niamh Fahey was a dominant figure at the back for Ireland and was consistently on hand to break up Siwss attacks. Both sides struggled to dominate posession as the two midfields largely cancelled wach other out.
Dora Gorman was introduced in place of Campbell on 64 mins however was replaced just 5 minutes later by Fiona O'Sullivan as Gorman pulled her hamstring over-stretching to block a cross.
In the 65th minute Badana again was impressive when tippinng over a clear chance for the Swiss after a rare error from Fahey. With time running out fast, Ireland needed a goal. Their chance came when good work on right by Russell and O'Sullivan led to Grant laying off the ball for O'Sullivan to fire a shot low which was well saved by Oehrli.
As Ireland pushed on Switzerland looked to counter attack and were almost rewarded only for a triple save. First Badana denied Crnogorcevic with a brilliant save low to her left. The rebound cleared by Tracy as Bachmann was about to tap into empty net. The rebound from that clearance led to a shot from Stilz which was cleared off the line by Quinn.
Ireland put pressure on for the final few moments. Cherelle Khassal came on for her senior debut and almost made an immediate impact but headed wide with her first touch this was followed by another chance from O'Sullivan which was again saved.
After the game manager Sue Ronan said "this game was a good workout for next months Euro matches as Switzerland are a top team, with some very good individual players. I was particularly pleased with the 1st half, where apart from the first 10mins, we were quite comfortable and unlucky not to score. However the quality of play in the 2nd half dropped, which was disappointing but understandable considering the very hot conditions and all the changes made. So plenty of food for thought going into the qualifiers."