Lions lose Victory Shield opener
Friday, 15 October, 2010
Wales beat England in the competition for first time since 1991.
by Glenn Lavery at New Bridge Meadow Stadium
A rampant first-half display from Wales helped them achieve their first Victory Shield success over England since 1991.
Osian Roberts’ young side blew the Three Lions away in the opening 40 minutes at New Bridge Meadow Stadium in Haverfordwest and had the game won by half-time, aided by two Declan John penalites and a delightful 25-yard chip from Rhys James.
It means a disappointing start to England’s Victory Shield campaign, a competition they have dominated in recent seasons, but they can take heart from their second-half performance and from the fact that they didn’t actually play that badly, though Wales were good value for the win.
In a lively opening period, England ‘keeper Jack Rose prevented O’Sullivan from reaching Callum Holden’s through ball after just two minutes, but there was nothing he could do about the Welsh opener just five minutes later.
John swung in a free-kick from the right which flashed across the face of goal. Josh Yorwerth was the first to the loose ball and the centre back swivelled and shot goalwards. Rose got down smartly to palm away but O’Sullivan pounced on the rebound and smashed the home side into the lead at the back post.
As the rain began to tumble, England did not let the goal affect them and attempted to spray the ball across the pitch as much as possible, but things got even worse after 20 minutes when James was felled near the England box. The referee, Brian James, initially awarded a free-kick on the edge of the 18-yard line, but, after conferring with one of his assistants he pointed to the spot and John took full advantage, confidently finding the bottom corner with his left-footed spot-kick.
Incredibly, just before the half-hour mark, another John penalty had made it 3-0 after Jordan Houghton was penalised for handling inside the box. James stepped up again and calmly sent the ball in the opposite direction than before, sending Rose the wrong way in the process.
If England felt aggrieved at the concession of two penalties in seven minutes, they could have absolutely no complaint about James’s 31st-minute effort; a wonderful long distance chip that Rose could do very little about.
Shell-shocked, the Three Lions found themselves 4-0 down after suffering a bad 20-minute spell, but they might have reduced the arrears when England captain Leo Chambers climbed highest to meet Graham’s right-wing free-kick but the West Ham defender’s header bounced back off the upright.
England were obviously eager to get back into the game as soon as possible after the restart and only an excellent goal-line clearance by Welsh substitute Daniel Barrow prevented David Moli from making it 4-1 when he prodded goalwards from the edge of the area.
Moli watched another effort fly over the bar and Graham saw a shot saved by Corey Stephens and a free-kick zip over the bar in a second half of much less incident than the first. Kenny Swain, though, was able to use his full quota of substitutes, as he usually likes to do in this competition and each sub impressed in his own way.
Swain's charges put in an improved second-half display but were unable launch what would have been a remarkable comeback. The damage had been done in that devastating first half-an-hour.
England fly to Northern Ireland next month for their second Victory Shield match.