Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Aaron Ramsey goal for Wales U21

Video of Aaron Ramsey's super strike against England for Wales in the U21 play off.

England will go to Sweden for U21 football

Ten-man England held on for a 2-2 draw against Wales to reach the finals of the Under-21 European Championship with a hard-fought 5-4 aggregate victory. Tom Huddlestone's early free-kick put England in control on the night.

But Wales replied with Aaron Ramsey's superb strike and a cool Simon Church finish before an unlucky Sam Vokes own goal restored England's advantage. Huddlestone's red card gave Wales hope but the closest they came to another goal was when Vokes hit the post.

England had to defend in numbers for the final 25 minutes after the Tottenham midfielder was sent off for a late tackle on Darcy Blake but it is they who will go to Sweden for next summer's finals. And the only consolation for Wales was that they managed to push their more illustrious opponents all the way despite their comparative lack of experience and pedigree.

And in the early stages the gulf in class was obvious, with Stuart Pearce's side dominating possession and Wales trying, unsuccessfully, to get their playmaker Ramsey on the ball. Following a spell of heavy pressure, it was no surprise when England took the lead on 13 minutes but the manner of their goal was disappointing for Wales.

Ramsey needless fouled Adam Johnson on the edge of the area and, although Huddlestone struck his free-kick firmly, Owain Fon Williams' wall was not sturdy enough and he also reacted slowly as the ball flashed past him and into the net. Initially, Wales created nothing in response and England's defence continued to look comfortable.

But that all changed when Ramsey levelled with a goal out of nowhere on 24 minutes - the £5m Arsenal midfielder picking up the ball 30 yards out and taking a touch before sending a shot rocketing into the top corner.

And the 17-year-old rocked England again five minutes later when he ran at their defence and slipped an inch-perfect pass through to Church, who coolly lifted the ball over the on-rushing Joe Hart for his third goal of the tie. That brought Wales level at 4-4 on aggregate and although England still had the lead on away goals they still had work to do.

But Wales' fragility at set-pieces meant the home side did not have to wait long to regain their advantage. After 35 minutes, another free-kick - this time whipped in from the right by Jamie O'Hara - was met by Steven Taylor and bounced off Vokes into the net.

The match settled down after the break, with both sides seemingly aware of the importance of the next goal. But Huddlestone's dismissal gave Wales the impetus and, with Ramsey orchestrating the play, they pushed forward with real purpose.

By now, England were on the back foot, with substitute Fraizer Campbell cutting an isolated figure up front. Pearce's men defended stubbornly, however, and Wales' last chance came and went when Vokes' low shot crashed against the post.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wales V England U21 football play off

Wales Under-21 side will play England Under-21s in a two-legged play-off for a place in next year's Uefa Championship in Sweden. Wales will be at home in the first leg, likely to be on October 10, with the return on October 14, although both dates are still provisional.

The match will pitch Stuart Pearce's youngsters, who topped their group with only two points dropped, against Brian Flynn's exciting clutch of young dragons, and both sides may consider being drawn together more than a little unfortunate. Pearce's side will be hoping to reach the finals of a tournament in which they made the semi-finals in 2007, while Wales will be bidding to qualify for their first major international competition since 1958. The winners of the play off will go to the final tournament held in Sweden in June 2009. The UEFA Under 21 Football Championship Final will be played in Malmö. The tournament will be from 15th June - 29th June. More information on the venues and this bizzare story about burgers causing a change of venue!

The last meeting between the two UK teams came in May, with England winning their friendly 2-0, thanks to goals from Tom Huddlestone and Theo Walcott. Match report for that game at the BBC

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wales team that beat Romania

Romania U21: Tatarusanu, Homei (Ochirosii 69), Tudose, Mardare, Sepsi, Tanase (Deac 45), Ropotan, Chiacu, Keseru, Torje (Bicfalvi 58), Stancu.
Subs Not Used: Panitilimon, Latovlevici, Luchin, Hora.

Booked: Stancu, Mardare, Chiacu, Ochirosii.

Wales U21: fon Williams, Blake (Mike Williams 21), Wiggins, Ramsey, Eardley, Rhys Williams, King, Bradley, Church, MacDonald, Adams.
Subs Not Used: North, Allen, Basey, Brown, Klein-Davies.

Booked: Rhys Williams.

Goals: Rhys Williams 12, Church 57, Wiggins 67.

Wales 3 - 0 Romania

WALES under 21 football team produced a sensational 3-0 win over Romania in Iasi to clinch a place in the Uefa Championship play-offs. The seemingly unlikely victory means they have won Group 10 ahead of France, and will now be seeded for a favourable draw for the play-offs in October.

Those games will clash with the World Cup matches against Liechtenstein and Germany on October 11 and 15 respectively.

It will once again give senior boss John Toshack a selection headache as he will want to help the under-21s as much as he can by releasing senior squad players still young enough to help the cause.

But that is a problem for the future.

For now, Wales can celebrate a remarkable performance by arguably their best under-21 side in history.

Having needed three points from their last two group matches — both against the Romanians — to claim an unprecedented place in the play-offs for next summer's finals in Sweden, Wales looked like they had blown their chances a fortnight ago when they were beaten 1-0 by Romania in Wrexham.

On that night coach Brian Flynn had the benefit of all the senior squad players who still qualify for the under-21s.

Wayne Hennessey, Gareth Bale, Chris Gunter, Ched Evans and Sam Vokes were all called into the squad for the game at the Racecourse Ground.

But defeat, and the fact that senior boss John Toshack wanted all of those youngsters back in his squad for the World Cup qualifier against Russia in Moscow, meant that the odds were heavily stacked against Flynn's youngsters.

But with what would be considered almost a second-string side, the Welsh youngsters pulled off an amazing victory.

Inside 10 minutes of the match, the two players who had been with the seniors all week but returned to the under-21 ranks combined to put Wales ahead.

Arsenal youngster Aaron Ramsey sent over a corner and Middlesbrough defender Rhys Williams scored with a right-footer from eight yards. Wales lost Darcy Blake through injury after 18 minutes, with Wrexham's Mike Williams coming on, and the Welsh youngsters held out until half-time still ahead despite constant pressure.

But Wales slowly took control in the second period and on the hour they took a two-goal lead, again following a Ramsey corner. This time it was Reading youngster Simon Church who netted from just a couple of yards.

Eight minutes later the game was virtually over when Church and Mark Bradley combined to give Rhoys Wiggins a simple tap-in for the third.

Wales then held out for the final period with ease, to produce a great win that was greeted with celebrations among the senior squad and supporters who were keeping tabs on the match while in Moscow awaiting the World Cup tie.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wales proud of U-21 side

Wales Under-21 boss Brian Flynn hailed his side's progress through to the play-offs for next year's Uefa European U21 Championships as "magnificent".

The youngsters beat Romania 3-0 in impressive style in Iasi to win Group 10 and seal a place in next month's play-offs, with the draw on Friday.

"The lads were absolutely magnificent from start to finish," Flynn said.

"Wales will be proud of them, I'm sure of that, as I am tonight."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wales 0 - 1 Romania U-21 Qualifier

Wales Under-21 wasted a golden chance to seal a qualifying play-off place for next year's Uefa Championship finals after losing 1-0 to Romania in Wrexham.
Match report from BBC

Adrian Ropotan claimed the goal that gave Romania victory, Wales dozing as Gabriel Torje clipped in a free-kick. Brian Flynn's young side created a glut of chances but were unable to find the goal to seal their passage.

Wolves striker Sam Vokes was most culpable, putting over two first-half headers that he should have converted. Wales still lead Romania by a point at the top of Group 10 but the Romanians have a game in hand. However, qualification is still in Wales' hands as their final group game is the return in Romania on 9 September. Win that and a Wales team will still be in with a chance of making a major finals for the first time since the senior side featured at the 1958 World Cup.

Wales suffered an early scare when goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey hesitated as a free-kick arced in from the left. That sparked a goalmouth scramble but the big Wolves stopper redeemed himself with a fine block as the ball was fired towards the Wales net.

Wales composed themselves after that nervous start and soon had the alarm bells ringing at the Romanian end. Ched Evans drifted out to the left of the area and clipped in a reverse pass for strike partner Vokes, who could only find the midriff of goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu with his scuffed shot.

Romania were generally solid through the middle of the park but were starting to be picked apart on the flanks, where Gareth Bale had licence to roam down either side.
Tottenham's £10m man carved out a great chance for Dave Edwards from one flowing attack down the right, although Tatarusanu was out of his goal quickly to smother the danger.

Romania continued to struggle with Wales' accurate crossing and only survived because Vokes was having a poor night in front of goal. The Wolves frontman wasted two gilt-edged opportunities to head Wales in front. First Vokes flashed a strong chance just over the bar, after the hard-working Evans had again worked space for himself to curl a cross onto his team-mate's forehead.

Then as the half-hour mark approached it was Bale providing the ammunition, only for Vokes to again head over from even closer in. Despite some pleasing football played by both sides the game remained deadlocked at the break.

The half was marred only by a late scuffle sparked by Evans sliding in on keeper Tatarusanu as he chased a loose ball, both players booked for their troubles.

Wales continued their dominance after the restart, with Shaun MacDonald and Bale both drawing saves from the busy Tatarusanu. Bale also failed to connect with a Darcy Blake cross that flashed across the face of goal.

But then on 65 minutes Wales were caught by a sucker-punch as they went to sleep at a Romanian set-piece. The red shirts were static as Torje curled in a free-kick that found Dinamo team-mate Ropotan free in the Wales area. Ropotan flicked out a foot and claimed the goal - although there was some doubt he made contact - as the ball bounced into the bottom corner past the left hand of the despairing Hennessey.

Wales redoubled their efforts and Rhys Williams almost rescued a point with seven minutes left, only for the Middlesbrough defender to see his shot deflected onto the Romania crossbar.

Then in the dying moments Bale unleashed a rocket that seemed destined for the back of the net, only for Tatarusanu to fly across his goal to palm the ball away.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wales under 21 squad for Romania

Wales Under-21 squad to face Romania:

Date> 20th August 2008
Venue> Racecourse Ground, Wrexham

Wayne Hennessey (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Owain Fon Williams (Stockport County), Mike Williams (Wrexham), Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough), Darcy Blake (Cardiff City), John Brown (Cardiff City), Lloyd James (Southampton), Chris Gunter (Tottenham Hotspur), Rhoys Wiggins (Crystal Palace), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), Joe Ledley (Cardiff City), Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur), David Edwards (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Shaun MacDonald (Swansea City), Mark Bradley (Walsall), Sam Vokes (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Ched Evans (Manchester City), Simon Church (Reading)

Stand-By: Jonathan North (Watford), Andy King (Leicester City), Nicky Adams (Leicester City), Josh Klein Davies (Bristol Rovers)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Wales Under 21 Football Squad

Wales Under-21 football squad for the qualification games against Romania :

Wayne Hennessey (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Owain Fon Williams (Stockport County)
Rhys Taylor (Chelsea)
Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)
Neal Eardley (Oldham Athletic)
Chris Gunter (Tottenham Hotspur)
Grant Basey (Charlton Athletic)
Darcy Blake (Cardiff City)
Lewin Nyatanga (Derby County)
Christian Ribeiro (Bristol City)
Rhoys Wiggins (Crystal Palace)
Joe Jacobson (Bristol Rovers)
Mike Williams (Wrexham)
Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough)
Nicky Adams (Leicester City)
Mark Bradley (Walsall)
Jack Collison (West Ham United)
David Edwards (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Andy King (Leicester City)
Joe Ledley (Cardiff City)
Shaun MacDonald (Swansea City)
Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
Jonathan Brown (Cardiff City)
Simon Church (Reading)
David Cotterill (Sheffield United)
Craig Davies (Oldham Athletic)
Ched Evans (Manchester City)
Sam Vokes (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

The U21s face Romania in Wrexham on 20 August and again in Iasi on 9 September

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Burgers Cause Change of venue for U21 Uefa 2009

Swedish fast food restaurant chain Max has decided to follow the will of the people and refuse to close during the U21 European Championships 2009. Uefa will now move the matches from Borås to another venue.

The battle which has pitted Swedish family-owned burger chain Max against the might of US giant McDonald's, and European football body Uefa, has been going all spring. A final offer from Max offering a compromise was rejected by Uefa last week. Max then decided to let the people decide in an internet vote.

"Max does not really want to close at all, but wants the local people of Borås to decide the fate of the football festival. That is why you can vote on whether Max should stand its ground or bow to Uefa's demands. Who will win? The ball is in your court!"

The people delivered a resounding verdict with 93 percent of the 22,000 readers of national newspaper gt.se stating that Max should keep its doors open.

But not everyone welcomed Max's refusal to back down.
"If Max's decision is final then they have cheated Borås residents out of this football festival," said Karl-Erik Nilsson at the Swedish football association.

Uefa will now look for another venue to hold the matches scheduled for Borås. The other host cities in the tournament are Malmö, Helsinborg and Gothenburg.

"The organising committee will come up with another alternative, which we will present for the board. We meet next Thursday," Nilsson said.

The Swedish football association has until August 22nd to come up with a suitable alternative for Uefa.

Under pressure from US burger giant McDonald's, who is one of the European football body's main sponsors, Uefa has been threatening all spring to move the matches if Max refused to close its outlet in the Borås Arena on match days.

Uefa also demanded that Max cover up their restaurant signs to minimise their presence.

Following a meeting with Borås council officials, Max agreed a compromise - to close its Borås Arena restaurant from three hours before kick off until an hour after the end of matches. Max planned to instead locate a couple of mobile kitchens some distance from the arena.

Uefa swiftly rejected this offer and demanded that Max close completely on match days. Hans Forsman, head of tourism at Borås council, considers the whole episode to be regrettable.

"We have done a great deal of planning with the other cities and were expecting a fantastic tournament. This would have meant a great deal for the city," Forsman said to news agency TT.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Wales 4 - 2 France, U21 Football

Manchester City FC striker Ched Evans scored a memorable hat-trick as Wales came from behind to edge a thrilling UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifier against Group 10 favourites France in Cardiff.

France comeback
After a start delayed by floodlight problems at Ninian Park, Evans lit the way for the home side as he set them on course for an unlikely victory just before half-time, capitalising on a weak back-pass from Younes Kaboul, rounding the goalkeeper and tapping in. France were unlucky to go into the interval behind and more than redressed the balance with two goals in five minutes midway through the second half, a Yoann Gourcuff penalty followed by a Dimitri Payet effort. Yet Wales hit back with a quickfire double of their own as Evans kept his cool with a spot-kick before Mark Bradley made it 3-2. Evans made the points safe in added time, sliding in the third penalty of the night.

Wales qualifying group for 2009 U21 Football Championship.

Wales are in qualifying group 10 for the 2009 Under 21 Football Championship.

Group 10

Flag of France France
Flag of Romania Romania
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina
Flag of Wales Wales
Flag of Malta Malta

The ten group winners and four best runners-up from the group stage will meet in a play-off to determine the seven qualifying nations. The play-off matches will be held in October 2008.

The final tournament will be held in Sweden in June 2009. The UEFA Under 21 Football Championship Final will be played in Malmö. The tournament will be from 15th June - 29th June.

More information on the venues and this bizzare story about burgers causing a change of venue!

Wales on course for Sweden U21 finals

Match report and reaction from The Western Mail

WALES U21 manager Brian Flynn admitted his team needed every ounce of their resilience to chisel a vital and darmatic European Championship victory against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo.

Reading striker Simon Church came off the bench to equalise four minutes from time and Manchester City forward Ched Evans rifled home the winner two minutes later.

The amazing finish denied a gutsy Bosnia-Herzegovina outfit, who had led through Boubacar Dialiba Diabang's second-half strike.

The result means Wales remain firmly on track for the finals in Sweden next summer.

Having previously beaten France 4-2 at Ninian Park, Wales now require one victory over Romania from a double header in August and September to make October's play-offs.

Wales have not reached the final stages of a major tournament since the World Cup in Sweden in 1958, and a triumphant Flynn could not hide his delight.

"Make no mistake, this was a huge result for us," said Flynn after Wales had completed a Group 10 double over Bosnia.

"I told the boys that we needed to come here and win and this is what we have done.

"No victory is easy away in Europe and we certainly made things difficult for ourselves.

"We didn't perform to the standard that I know that we are capable of. But Bosnia made it hard for us.

"They restricted us to three scoring chances and fortunately two of our efforts went into the net."

Flynn admitted he was anxious with the clock running down and his young Welsh players in danger of blowing their qualification hopes.

"I feared the worst at one point," he said. "But Simon Church did very well when he came on.

"We operate an 18-man squad and everyone has played their part in taking us to the top of our qualification group.

"We now play Romania at Wrexham next and I can't wait for that. The pity of it is that this game falls into next season."

Former Wrexham and Swansea boss Flynn expected a new-look Bosnia team to push his charges hard in Sarajevo.

"We have scored late goals throughout our qualification campaign - we were forced to do this in the away match in Malta and the home game against Bosnia," he added.

"You sometimes have to win ugly and that's what happened here.

"We made things difficult for ourselves at times but in the end, my side came through for me. I'm absolutely delighted."

Flynn brought in Tottenham youngster Chris Gunter - released from the senior squad in Luxembourg to play here - at right-back for Darcy Blake in the only change from last month's 4-0 win in Malta.

Wales had hammered Bosnia 4-0 in the reverse fixture at the Racecourse Ground last November, but the hosts' pacy attack was a major threat early on.

Wrexham's Mike Williams had a first-half "goal" ruled out for shoving at a Joe Jacobson corner as the opening period ended goalless. That looked a costly decision as, after a first half of few chances, Wales' fifth straight group win appeared a world away when Diabang struck in the 58th minute.

Welsh goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams should have done better with Diabang's low 20-yard shot - but it somehow squirted from his grasp and into the net.

The keeper's embarrassment was eased when Wales desperately poured forward in the final stages.

With time fast running out, Church drilled home the equaliser to give Wales what looked a share of the spoils.

But, incredibly two minutes later, Evans - who has spent most of the season on loan at Championship club Norwich - struck his seventh goal of the campaign to put Wales four points ahead of Romania ahead of the two nations' double-header.

The Romanians have a game in hand but Wales' qualification destiny remains very much in their hands.