Japan strike twice in 53rd minute for 2-0 win

Women’s senior international test match
Ireland 0 Japan 2 (Y Mano, Y Nagai)
Two goals in the 53rd minute saw Ireland fall to a 2-0 defeat to Japan in the first of their three games at Mardyke this week.

Yukari Mano eventually broke the deadlock with just seven minutes remaining with a dinked finish over goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran. Seconds later, the hosts won a corner which fell to Yuri Nagai on the baseline and she found the backboard.

Deirdre Duke receives her 100th cap from Graham Shaw. Pic: Irish Hockey

Ireland were forced to defend deep for long periods of the first half against the world number 12s – four places above the Green Army.

But thet had few real goalmouth chanyes, the main two being a reverse strike and a crash ball into a crowded circle, were saved by Ayeisha McFerran. Nicci Daly was also on hand to clear Minami Shimizu’s shot off the line.

It was Anna O’Flanagan who won the first penalty corner of the game with some tenacious running into the circle but Zoe Wilson’s strike was well saved by Megumi Kageyama.

The Green Army upped the pressure as the half went on with Ali Meeke robbing Maho Segawa and feeding Deirdre Duke, winning her 100th cap, on the end line but the final slip back to penalty spot was well read and cleared.

The pattern continued into the second half but no goals accrued until that final salvo. McFerran continued her great game with two fine saves early in the second half.

Motomi Kawamura got an awkward touch in front of goal but McFerran made a good reaction stop and moments later came sliding out of her goal to prevent Aki Yamada’s close-range strike.

The first goal came from a bobbly ball into the circle that saw Yukari Mano get the touch past McFerran in the 53rd minute. The Japanese doubled their lead courtesy of an Irish error; a well-won home corner went awry and Japan countered at pace down the right with Hazuki Nagai picking the ball up at the base line and firing into the corner.

The Green Army had a few chances as the clock wound down; Wilson sending a great ball into O’Flanagan and Pinder doing the same for Mullan but Kageyama made the late save.

Nicci Daly did make her first appearance in competitive action in over a month following a stress fracture in her foot but there was still no return for Megan Frazer as she works her way back from a knee injury.
As such, World Cup reserve Emily Beatty started the tie while Sarah Torrans came off the bench with Roisin Upton also rested.

The sides will meet again on Friday (7pm) and Saturday (5pm) at the Mardyke to complete this eight-day block.

Ireland: A McFerran, N Evans, K Mullan, S McCay, E Beatty, G Pinder, L Colvin, H Matthews, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, A Meeke
Subs: Y O’Byrne, L Tice, C Watkins, N Daly, S Torrans, D Duke, G O’Flanagan

Japan: M Kageyama, N Naito, A Ota, Y Mano, Y Nagai, M Segawa, S Oikawa, M Karino, K Hoshi, M Kawamura, H Yuda
Subs: N Matsumoto, Y Asai, H Nagai, M Shimizu, K Nomura, A Yamada, E Akaya

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