Wonderful Night for Welsh Football
Osian Roberts' Wales Under 16 win the 2014/15 Victory Shield, claiming the title in N.Ireland this evening for the first time in 65 years.
Wales 16's beat Northern Ireland in Ballymena tonight to complete an impressive 100% record in this year’s campaign and win the Victory Shield outright for the first time since 1949. The Welsh team continued to play as they have all year and thoroughly deserved the win.
Wales started nervously on an uneven pitch and the home side had more of the early chances. Dylan Davidson shot over the bar from 20 yards and Northern Ireland had a claim for a penalty turned down when Liam McKenna’s shirt was pulled by Daniel Jeffries. After eight minutes Davidson had an excellent opportunity to put Northern Ireland ahead when he missed with a header from a very dangerous area.
Wales’ first chance came after 11 minutes when captain Tyler Roberts tried to chip keeper Matthew Davidson but his effort went just over the bar. Five minutes later midfielder Matty Smith missed narrowly with a shot which went past the post and Wales began to settle down, keeping possession and building up play constructively.
A good shot by Liam Cullen from a free-kick following a foul on Tyler Roberts was well saved by Davidson. Roberts continued to impress at the head of the Welsh attack, beating two players and hitting the target with a powerful shot which Davidson failed to grasp but the ball was eventually cleared.
After 27 minutes, Wales deservedly went ahead with an outstanding set-piece goal. An excellent free-kick from the left by Exeter’s Max Smallcombe was met by Tyler Roberts who ran in front of the home defenders to score with a brave, well-judged header.
Wales went in with a 1-0 lead at the interval and made one substitution with Ethan Ampadu replacing the injured Liam Angel. Northern Ireland took Jack White off and brought on Lucas Galashan and early in the second half Dylan Davidson was replaced by David Parkhouse.
On the hour the hosts hit the target when Galashan’s header was saved by the confident Coughlan. Wales brought on Keiran Evans for Keiron Proctor, who is also eligible for next year’s tournament, and for Northern Ireland Reece McGinley was replaced by Conal Fagan.
Wales’ second goal came after 63 minutes when Liam Cullen cut in from the right-hand touchline, beat a player and curled a superb low shot into the far corner from the edge of the box. It was Cullen’s third goal of the campaign.
Northern Ireland had two chances late in the game, one from McGinley whose shot flew over the bar after some good build-up play by the hosts and another which was well saved by keeper Coughlan.
Wales made some late substitutions with Sosani and Burton replacing Woodburn and Smith who had been at the heart of the Welsh engine in the middle of the park. The Welsh youngsters thoroughly deserved their victory and run out comfortable winners of the trophy with maximum points.
Osian Roberts was naturally very proud of his squad and complimented them on their performance. He has always had high hopes for this “special group of players” and with further development through the age-group structure and the team of coaches now working for the FAW, there is great optimism that a number of this squad will progress through to senior level in years to come.