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."