Wales beat France 2-1 at Dragon Park, Newport, tonight (Thursday).
The Wales Under 16’s celebrated a second win over visitors France, with a 2-1 result at Dragon Park, that was marked by two high-quality goals from Swansea City pair Liam Cullen and Daniel Jefferies. France had looked the better of the two sides in the first half, but just as Tuesday, the second half belonged to Wales.
The two sides met for the second time at Dragon Park, Newport on Thursday 25th September. The matches as part of the build-up for Wales to the Autumn Sky Victory Shield matches. After the tremendous 1-0 win for Wales on Tuesday evening, it was clear that the French would be looking to redress the balance.
Osian Roberts made five changes to his line-up from Tuesday. In came Joe Lewis, Theo Llewellyn, Keiran Proctor, Ibi Sosani and Ethan Ampadu in place of Mitch Clarke, Max Smallcombe, goalscorer Liam Cullen, Ben Woodburn and Keiran Evans. Neither Woodburn nor Kieran Holsgrove (Liverpool) were involved in the Wales match day squad for the second encounter.
For France, all seven of their substitutes from Tuesday started.
Once again, the pitch at Dragon Park was in perfect condition, whilst the weather was overcast and breezy.
The Wales team:
1.Scott Coughlan (Cardiff City), 2.Joe Lewis (Swansea City), 3.Ben Williams (Blackburn Rovers), 4.Liam Angel (Cardiff City), 5.Daniel Jefferies (Swansea City), 6.Theo Llewellyn (Bristol City), 7.Keiran Proctor (Cardiff City), 8.Matty Smith (Manchester City) (c), 9.Ibi Sosani (Cardiff City), 10.Ethan Ampadu (Exeter City), 11.Sam Phillips (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Subs: 12.George Ratcliife (Cardiff City), 13.Rhys Norrington Davies (Swansea City), 14.Mitch Clark (Aston Villa), 15.Max Smallcombe (Exeter City), 16.Ryan Stirk (Birmingham City), 17.Liam Cullen (Swansea City), 18.Kieran Evans (Swansea City), 19.Dylan Levitt (Manchester United), 20.Brandon Burrows (Wrexham)
The France team:
16.Didier Desprez, 3.Fahad Mohamed, 4.Mahamadou Dembele (c), 6.Aurelien Nguiamba, 7.Moussa Sylla, 9.Calvin Tshilumba, 12.Enzo Ebosse, 13.Thomas Basilia, 14.Benjamin Verite, 15.Yanis Ammour, 18.Nabil Alioui.
Subs: 1.Thomas Chesneau, 2.Marvin Louisius, 5.Dan Zagadou, 8.Koren Kerkour, 10.Yassin Fortune, 11.Antoine Bernede,, 17.Mickael Cuisance,
Referee: Kris Hames. Assistants: Ben Stitfall & Gavin Townsend. 4th Official: Leigh Jones.
As in the first game both sides looked to settle and test each other-out in the opening few minutes.
A nice run by Alioui on 7 minutes down the left flank saw him cut inside, before his ball to Tshilumba was cleared from the penalty area.
Wales won a throw-in on 10 minutes that gave the team their first corner. Ampadu’s kick was well taken by the French keeper Desprez however. France came straight downfield and Tshilumba had a chance before a header from Alioui was tipped away for a corner. The French then put the header wide.
Sosani won a free kick just outside the area on the right on 13 minutes. Ampadu took the kick, which came back to him, but was then cleared back towards the Welsh goal and some quick defending brought a corner. The cross was blocked and out for a goal kick.
Danny Jefferies was looking very solid for wales at the heart of the defence, as France pressed at every opportunity. France hit the crossbar on 17 minutes from Nguiamba, some three yards outside the area. Alioui had another shot blocked for a corner soon after as Wales looked to weather the storm. Which they did.
France were still getting the bulk of possession, but Wales continued to look to play a passing game. Alioui had another snap shot on 25 minutes that only went just wide of Coughlan’s right hand post as the wales midfield looked to try and gain more control.
Sam Phillips and Ethan Ampadu linked well to try and set Sosani away, but the French defence quicklyy leafed the danger and set-up another attack, with Sylla going close on 27 minutes as he ghosted-in but his shot went just wide.
Theo Llewellyn in midfield showed some neat touches and was involved in much of what was good from Wales. But Ibi Sosani was finding it hard trying to lead the line with some tall central French defenders watching over him.
Captain Matty Smith and Ethan Ampadu had plenty of work in the engine-room for Wales and Smith tried his cluck with a shot from twenty five yards that sailed high over the bar on 35 minutes.
Another French corner came to nothing on 37 minutes. From a foul on Sosani, Phillips was set free and he won a corner for Wales. Ampadu’s corner went through a sea of heads and out the other side.
Aliou won a corner from another blocked shot on 39 minutes, and from the corner, Calvin Tshilumba got to it to force the ball over the line to give the visitors the lead. It was a tough break for the Welsh lads who had fought hard over the opening half to nullify the threat of the French side.
For the second half, Wales made four changes. On came Mitch Clark, Liam Cullen, Kieran Evans and Max Smallcombe in place of Ibi Sosani, Joe Lewis, Sam Phillips and Theo Llewellyn. France changed Moussa Sylla, being replaced by Yassin Fortune.
A run from Keiran Proctor down the right on 45 minutes saw a nice cross, but no-one could get on the end of it and the chance was gone. A great run at the other end two minutes later saw Fortune cut-in before a shot went wide of the Welsh post.
Alioui continued to be a threat just behind the French front-runners, but the welsh defence held firm.
Matty Smith took a nice one-two to get in and have a shot blocked for a corner. Ampadu took the kick but it failed to clear the first defender and was cleared. After a short stoppage, Matty Smith was in the thick of it once again, but his shot went for a goal kick.
The French No.10 - Fortune went into the referee’s book for a poor tackle, but Ampadu’s free kick was too long and went straight out. A few minutes later, another free kick also went out from Smallcombe on 55 minutes.
Antoine Bernede replaced Yannis Ammour on 57 minutes ands soon after Wales were back on level terms - Liam Cullen had a break and his shot hit the post and came back out to him wide. Cooly, he cut-in and had a second shot that found the top left hand corner. A brilliant goal. It was all-square on 60 minutes and the game was well and truly on.
France got a free kick on the edge of the area on 63 minutes but once more, Coughlan took it cleanly under pressure. The ball came-back-in and a melee saw another corner to France. Dylan Lewitt came on for Keiran Proctor before the corner was taken, but the kick came to nothing on 64 minutes.
From another Wales corner, Daniel Jefferies got-up above the French defence to glide the ball home to give Wales the lead. Another quality goal. France substituted Alioul with Zagadou straight-away on 67 minutes, as they were now forced to chase the game that they had seemed to be in control of.
France were certainly rattled and Wales looked to take full advantage of it with Cullen who was very quick around the box.
Rhys Norrington Davies came on for Ben Williams after 72 minutes to have a first taste of the action. The french continued to search for the equaliser, but time was running-out and Wales looked to have taken the upper-hand.
The French were guilty of several challenges that were on the hard side of fair, and Wales did well to rise above it and keep playing football. Certainly France were not used to being in this position.
The game moved into additional time, with Wales captain Matty Smith continuing to be in the thick of it, leading by example. The final minutes were played-out near the French corner-flag and the clock was run-down. The whistle went and celebrations began. What another great win, but more importantly, what a great performance. Now for England at Bangor in the Sky Victory Shield on October 31st.