After a heavy 7-1 defeat to the Czech Republic in their opening Telki Cup match, it was apparent lessons had been learnt by Wales U17s but it wasn't quite enough as the young dragons lost 3-0 to tournament favourites Croatia.
Wales 0-3 Croatia
2018 Telki Cup
L Soldo (27’ 37’), 7 L Sucic (43’)
Coaches Rob Page, Paul Bodin and Rob Edwards made several changes from the team that started against the Czech Republic. The trio wanted to see an increase in intensity in the side and it was apparent in the early stages with Wales closing down quickly and forcing the Croatians back into their own half.
Wales were able to hold on to possession effectively further up the pitch through the hold up play of striker Will Russ which forced Croatia to concede several corners in the first half. However after 27 minutes it became apparent that Croatia would be clinical with their chances. With their first clear cut chance of the game, striker Luka Soldo made the most of a cross in from the left hand side, meeting the ball with a powerful header which found the top corner.
Ten minutes later Soldo doubled his tally with a slice of luck when the striker's long distance shot took a cruel deflection and sailed over the head of goalkeeper Cian Tyler. There was further misery for Wales in the closing stages of the first half as an error in midfield gifted Croatia a 2v1 overlap in attack and midfielder Luka Sucic made no mistake in netting for the Croats.
Defensively, Wales remained solid as they put bodies between the Croatian attacks and the goal. Wales matched the physicality of a strong Croatian, withstanding several tough challenges which eventually saw Dorjan Frnceskovic red carded for a challenge from behind on Harvey Rew.
With Croatia down to ten men for the final ten minutes of the match, Wales exploited the gaps to create a number of one on one chances but failed to take what would have been a well deserved goal.
Wales will face Hungary in their final match of the 2018 Telki Cup to determine who will finish third in the competition.
12 C Tyler, 4 J Taylor, 5 L Noble (c), 6 J Low (3 H Rew 66’), 7 B Gibbings (17 J Holmes 56’), 8 C Campbell (10 W Rickard 60’), 9 W Russ (19 M Sparkes 56’), 11 D Jones (20 J Thomas 56’), 14 L Motruk, 16 I Hughes, 18 J Budd (13 T Sparrow 66’)