Ireland coach Vera Pauw believes that individual error on the pitch rather than mismanagement from the sideline was the reason for a draw with a Slovakia side that probably leaves Dublin more disappointed than their hosts.
"We made some individual mistakes, we have to be glad with the draw, I think," said Pauw in the immediate aftermath of a result that leaves Finland second in Group A despite losing in Sweden. "They were very aggressive, which we expected, we were prepared for that. They had good possession, but we got really loose.
“The second half, we did really well, but we were still vulnerable.”
On Martina Surnovská’s goal just after half-time, Pauw implied that Ireland skipper Katie McCabe’s desire to push high up the left wing caused a breakdown in the defensive system.
“Individuals are going forward and think they can run out of the organisation, and this is what you get,” said Pauw. “We have to learn that you cannot just do your own thing.”
If directed at McCabe, it is harsh criticism of Ireland’s best player on the night, re-enforced by the Arsenal winger finishing from Denise O’Sullivan’s pass on 65 minutes to secure a point.
Despite making some important saves, Courtney Brosnan's tendency to make a clanger in the Ireland goal may force an immediate promotion for Megan Walsh after the Brighton goalkeeper received an Irish passport this week.
“That is why we did not put Louise forward [until very late on] because we were too vulnerable at the back,” added Pauw. “And we stayed vulnerable because we were not connected. If you want to score so badly at 1-1 and don’t want to get goals against, you cannot do strange things as a coach.
“If we were to put Louise forward, the chance to lose the game was bigger than the chance to win the game.
"We need more composure under pressure and that is the most difficult point to get into the game and to grow. The individual moment when we could have changed the game, that did not happen. There was a moment when Lucy Quinn was completely open and when she ran offside.
“We all know we can do better and will be better on Tuesday [against Georgia].”
Unfortunately Ireland must do better without their workhorse striker Heather Payne who must return to Florida State University to finish her semester.
“I have college work,” said Payne. “I can’t get out of it this time. I did what I could to get back for this one. I am very disappointed but we’ll be fine for Tuesday. I have great faith in all my teammates to get the win against Georgia.”
Interestingly, the 5,154 attendance was less than the advertised 6,000-plus tickets sold with Pauw’s pre match concerns about Covid withdrawals possibly coming to pass.
“I know it’s cold,” said McCabe “but come watch us play, come support us and hopefully we can put on a good show.”