Cymru and England played out a competitive 1-1 draw at Newport Stadium on Friday afternoon as an early goal from Luke Harris for the home side was cancelled out by an equaliser from Rico Lewis in this international challenge match.
U18 International Match
Cymru 1-1 England
- Luke Harris 19'
- Rico Lewis 76'
England won this fixture 2-0 back in March when the two nations faced each other in Cardiff, and this latest meeting marked the end of a five day training camp for Paul Williams and his visiting squad. This was only Cymru's second match at this age group in over 20 years, and home goalkeeper Ronnie Hollingshead was tested early on as he denied Darko Gyabi and Kaide Gordon inside the first few minutes of the match.
The visitors enjoyed the better of the possession in the opening exchanges, with Liverpool youngster Gordon a constant problem for Cymru on the right. However, Matty Jones' side soon settled into the match, and opened the scoring on 19 minutes when Fulham's Luke Harris made no mistake to slot the ball past England goalkeeper Charlie Setford from close range after being played through by Murphy Bennett.
The goal raised the confidence levels within the home side and there was an extra spark in midfield as captain Ben Purcell looked to combine with Iwan Roberts and Harris in attack. However, England remained dangerous at the other end of the field as they forced a series of corners. Both team were forced to make changes early in the match as Joel Green and Jordan Hackett were replaced for Cymru and the visitors respectively, while the home side ended the half strongly with the impressive Harris testing Setford with a deflected effort from the edge of the area.
Cymru made a string of changes at half-time as the sun replaced the clouds at Newport Stadium. Despite the changes, Cymru continued to make things difficult for England, but opportunities to increase their lead were few and far between. Frustrating their opponents with a well-disciplined and organised defensive performance, Cymru were good value for their lead at the midway point in the second half.
England enjoyed the majority of possession as both teams made a number of changes throughout the second half, but the Cymru defence held firm, with substitute goalkeeper Tyler Evans rarely tested thanks to the protection of a back-line superbly marshalled by Zac Williams. Evans was called into action on 70 minutes to deny Michael Olakigbe as England continued to push for an equaliser, and it was Rico Lewis who eventually levelled for England with 15 minutes remaining.
Cymru U18 XI: Hollingshead (GK), Bennett, Green, James, Z.Williams, Abbott, M.Williams, Purcell (c), I.Roberts, Harris, Ashford.
Subs: Evans(GK), Karadogan, Hammond, Davies, Congreve, Jewitt-White, Cotterill, Lloyd, Jenkins-Davies, Wigley, M.Roberts.
Head Coach: Matty Jones
Goals: Harris (19)
England U18 XI: Setford (GK), Jonas, Katongo, Lewis (c), Hackett, Braybrooke, Gyabi, Mather, Perkins, Gordon, Emmerson.
Subs: Olise, Sturage, Hughes, Chambers, Wells-Morrison, Olakigbe, Beadle, Hall, Pennant, Gore, Knightbridge.
Head Coach: Paul Williams
Goals: Lewis (76)
Referee: Ryan Kenny (WAL)
Assistant referees: Jordan Christopher (WAL) & Connor Thomas (WAL)
Fourth official: Jordan Harman (WAL)