Difficult start for Wales at the Slovakia Cup
7 May 2018

Difficult start for Wales at the Slovakia Cup

Bright sunshine on a warm afternoon welcomed Paul Bodin's Wales U19 squad as they arrived at the NTC Senec to take on hosts Slovakia in their opening Group A match of the Slovakia Cup. 

Competing in the tournament for the first time, Wales were up against it from the start as the hosts took the lead after just 8 minutes when Jakub Kadak headed a fine ball from Samuel Sula past goalkeeper George Ratcliffe.

Slovakia had the majority of the possession in the opening exchanges, and as a result it was Wales that were made to work in the stifling heat.  

However, Wales settled into the match at the midway point of the opening half, and after Elliott Thorpe and Neco Williams combined on the right, Jack Vale saw his effort saved by goalkeeper Ivan Krajcirik.

The chance gave Wales a visible boost as they began to work the ball through the channels, but Slovakia remained dangerous on the break, with Matus Kmet enjoying space on the left.

Tibor Slebodnik and Kadak both had efforts saved by Ratcliffe as Slovakia pushed for a second goal, but it was Krajcirik who had to be at his best at the other end of the field to deny Callum Watts from equalising with a well-struck free-kick.

With the belief improving within the Wales team, Morgan Boyes was also denied by Krajcirik before captain Ryan Reynolds' effort went over the bar. 

Substitute David Strelec failed to direct his header on target for the home side minutes in the second half, but Wales were level on 43 minutes.

Elliot Thorpe was fouled in the area by Matus Mader, and Vale made no mistake with a well-taken penalty to equalise. However, Strelec almost restored the advantage for Slovakia, but his header went narrowly over the bar.  

Slovakia went ahead on 50 minutes when Strelec finally found the back of the net as he slotted a square ball from Kadak past Ratcliffe.

Wales made a string of substitutions as they looked to get themselves back into the match, but it was Slovakia who would add a third on 57 minutes when captain Marian Pisoja headed his side further ahead from a corner.  

On 68 minutes Sam Bowen was denied from distance as Krajcirik punched away his fine effort, but as the match moved into injury time, Strelec weaved his way through the Wales defence to score his second and complete the scoring. However, Wales will have little time to dwell on the defeat, as their Slovakia Cup campaign continues against Azerbaijan on Tuesday.