A late goal from Benik Afobe was enough to see the Young Lions to victory over Wales in Llanelli.
Wales 0-1 England
Sky Sports Victory Shield
7.40pm, Friday 31 October 2008
Stebonheath Park, Llanelli
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A Benik Afobe strike five minutes from time secured three points for England in their second Victory Shield match against Wales on Friday evening.
With the game seemingly destined for a 0-0 stalemate, Afobe's third goal in this Victory Shield campaign deflated a determined Welsh outfit who will feel they deserved at least a point for their dogged performance.
The only goal of the game came after good work on the right flank from Middlesbrough's Bruno Pilatos. Jinking his way inside, he squared the ball to George Thorne on the edge of the box. Thorne's exquisite through ball provided Afobe with the opening and he shrugged off the challenge from two defenders to steer the ball beyond Jonathan Bond with a low, angled drive.
This goal was enough to give England victory and leaves them with six points from their opening two fixtures, though, this was a game of very few opportunities and was in stark contrast to The Young Lions' last Shield match which saw them overwhelm Northern Ireland 6-0.
Despite enjoying the majority of possession, they were pressed throughout by an organised Welsh side who refused Kenny Swain's team any time on the ball.
They pressured England so much that The Young Lions' best opportunity of the first-half came just after the half hour mark. A right-to-left cross-field ball from skipper Louis Laing was controlled by Aziz Deen-Conteh, who fed Afobe 20 yards from goal.
Afobe produced a smart turn and then unleashed a low, powerful drive which was parried to safety by the Welsh stopper. Aside from two free-kicks in the opening nine minutes, this was England's clearest opportunity in a tight first-half.
The hosts had only one real first-half chance themselves. Cardiff City forward Dane Griffiths found himself free in the box, but he wasn't aware of how much time he actually had and his snapshot didn't trouble Jamal Blackman in the England goal.
Buoyed by their performance in the first 40 minutes, Wales began the second period brighter than the visitors, with substitute Jonathan Evans involved in two early opportunities.
He latched on to a through ball after 54 minutes and chased by Andre Wisdom, his rushed shot, from England's point of view, trickled to safety. Barely a minute later, he knocked the ball down to his captain Emyr Huws and Huws' stinging drive forced Blackman into a smart save.
Afobe attempted to stem the Welsh flow and threatened once more in the 61st minute, turning Max Penk just inside the area, but then contrived to blaze his shot over the bar.
Though Deen-Conteh looked bright and Ross Barkley impressed from midfield, if anyone was going to be England's match winner it was going to be Arsenal's powerful forward.
That was how it proved, as his cute finish settled the match and ensures England will head into their final Victory Shield match against Scotland with maximum points.The Teams
1 Jonathan Bond, 2 Aaron Phillips, 3 Iain Edmunds, 4 Max Penk, 5 Aaron Holloway, 6 Kurtis March (16 Joshua Roberts, 80) 7 Jonathan Williams, 8 Emyr Huws (C), 9 Dane Griffiths (14 Richard Caine, 76), 10 Leon Newall (15 Jonathan Evans, 41), 11 George Colson.Substitutes not used
12 Daniel Ward, 13 Luke Mathias, 17 Ryan Connolly, 18 Joe RigbyEngland
1 Jamal Blackman, 2 Connor Morris (18 Bruno Pilatos, 41), 3 Jack Robinson, 4 Josh Rees (15 Nathan Chalobah, 74) 5 Louis Laing (C), 6 Andre Wisdom, 7 Jake Fowler (17 Zeli Ismail, 41), 8 Ross Barkley, 9 Benik Afobe, 10 Robert Hall (16 Connor Wickham, 64), 11 Aziz Deen-Conteh (12 George Thorne, 58)Substitutes not used
13 Sam Johnstone, 14 Alex Whittle