Wales secure World Cup play-off place in historic night for women's game in Cardiff

Wales women made history on a night of tension in Cardiff Credit: PA Images

Wales have taken one step closer to a first major tournament appearance after coming through an often cagey affair with World Cup play-off spot rivals Slovenia.

Gemma Grainger's side now have a World Cup play-off game standing between them and sporting history for the women's national team.

Tuesday night's game at the Cardiff City Stadium made its own history with a record attendance of 12,741; the highest ever for a Wales women's fixture.

Despite a slow start from the home side, the constant sense of a threat from the visiting Slovenia side and the notable absence of Jess Fishlock, Wales women can now look forward to continuing their hugely impressive progressive in recent months.

Tuesday's game was a record-setter for the attendance at a Wales women's fixture Credit: PA Images

It was, perhaps unsurprisingly with so much at stake, a cagey affair in the opening stages.

Wales may have been the hosts but for spells of the first half it was visitors Slovenia who looked like the home team, building neat combinations and well-linked passages of play.

Gemma Grainger's side were issued something of a warning just after seven minutes of play, although fortunately for the home side striker Lara Prašnikar was unable to get on the end of a searching cross.

Just minutes later those Welsh nerves almost led to a Slovenia breakthrough. Rachel Rowe's aimless pass was easily intercepted by Mateja Zver, although she was unable to send her finish past the onrushing Laura O'Sullivan.

It was a tough contest for the home side in the opening exchanges Credit: PA Images

Having survived that scare and as the first half developed Gemma Grainger's side appeared to grow in confidence.

Their first real chance of the game came through teenager Carrie Jones. Playing on the break and at the end of a quick transition, Jones found herself one-one-one with opposing defender Kaja Erzen.

The visibly talented 19-year-old's dip of the shoulder opened up enough space to get a shot away but it was saved comfortably by Zala Meršnik.

On the half hour mark it was midfielder Sophie Ingle who found herself with the chance to put her side in front.

Kayleigh Green's cross was near-perfect for Ingle, although she was unable to get a meaningful connection on her shot and sent the effort wide.

Slovenia's spells of pressure continued despite Wales clearly growing in confidence on the ball but the away side were unable to create any clear cut chances, instead being reduced to efforts from outside O'Sullivan's box.

The last big chance of the half fell to Carrie Jones. Rhiannon Robert's searching cross landing right at the young forward's feet, who sent her volley into the ground and wide of Meršnik's goal.

The second half began in much the same vein as the first: a palpable tension as both sides passed and probed and looked for an opening.

A draw was always going to be enough for Wales. Slovenia, meanwhile, needed a win and made a double substitution just after the hour mark as they went in search of that opening goal.

Carrie Jones was again at the heart of the action. Her driving run at the backtracking Slovenian defence led to a stinging effort at goal that brought out a decent save from Meršnik.

Gemma Evans should have scored from the resulting corner, had she not sent her header from close range straight at the arms of Meršnik.

Slovenia, in a sign the game was far from over, responded in kind with a threat of their own; Zver's cut inside and curling effort zipping just wide of O'Sullivan's far post.

The first yellow card of the evening was shown to Hayley Ladd for a late challenge, although there were no complaints from the defender as she hurried backwards to protect her clean sheet.

Both sides pressed and probed but it was Wales who, on a night where they needed just a point, produced an efficient display to move one step closer to that first appearance at a major tournament.