England Under 18 Schoolboys’ final game ended in 4-1 defeat to a strong Welsh side at Llansawel FC. A Jack Bates penalty levelled the scores at 1-1, however it wasn’t enough for England to get anything out of the game. Before kick-off, both sides paid tribute to Sam Harding, the former England Schoolboys midfielder who very sadly passed away earlier in the week.
Wales could’ve taken the lead within the first five minutes, as a free kick fell into the path of Gabe Kircough, who fired his volley well over the bar. The pressure on the England goal continued, as Wales broke forward Jake Morris found himself unmarked on the back post, however his half volley also whistled over the bar. England’s first effort on target came from Bates, who’s ambitious free kick from the edge of the box was fired straight at the keeper.
Moments later it was Wales’s turn to try their luck from distance, only for Josh Mazfari to acrobatically tip the ball onto the bar. The chances continued to come, and this time it was England who could’ve fired themselves into the lead. Alfie Dean found himself on the edge of the area with a clear sight at goal, only for his left footed drive to fall straight into the arms of Ifan Knott in the Wales goal.
As England were wondering how they weren’t in the lead, Wales took advantage. The ball bobbled around in the area and fell kindly to Roan Piper, who’s left footed effort to find the back of the net to give Wales the lead.
After half-an-hour, England had a chance to strike level, as Jack Beerling created an opening, only for his low effort to flash past the wrong side of the post. The visitors wouldn’t have to wait much longer for their next chance, as Bailey Hall was hacked down in the area. Bates confidently stepped up to fire England level, and their pressure had paid off.
The sides looked to be heading into the break level, until Joshua Williams found himself with a chance from the edge of the area. His right footed effort beat Mazfari to restore Wales’s lead going into the interval.
England started the second period on the front foot, as they chased another equaliser. However, the Welsh defence stood firm and limited the visitors few openings in front of goal. Wales also created chances, with only some heroic defending from Ashton Fox keeping the deficit at one goal.
The hosts continued to dominate and found themselves with a free kick 20 yards from goal. Williams stepped up and his right footed effort would have caused problems for two goalkeepers as it whistled into the top corner.
England now had a mountain to climb but it wasn’t for the lack of trying. A long ball forward from Bates caused problems for Knott, who’s punch fell kindly into the path of Dean who fired his effort over the bar. England, who were looking to build an attack, played themselves into trouble. Mazfari mis controlled the ball and brought Williams in the area, the referee pointed to the spot and Wales had a chance to wrap it up. Williams stepped up from 12 yards out and fired into the bottom corner for his hat-trick and Wales’s fourth.
The clock ran down and Wales sealed their victory, the win means they remain top of the table heading into their final game with the Republic of Ireland. The result was England’s only loss of the tournament, having beaten Northern Ireland and Scotland, before picking up a point against the Republic of Ireland, they can look back on their performances with pride.
You can watch a replay of the full match here
Photo credits: 353 Photography
The National Governing Body for Schools’ Football in England.