England 1 Wales 0

By Paul Harper
England scraped past Wales with an undeserved 1-0 victory at Wembley Stadium. Ashley Young’s first-half goal separated the two sides in an uninspiring game with very few chances.

After England’s 3-0 success in Bulgaria, hopes were of a young, pacy attack to get at their Welsh counterparts. Unfortunately for the home side, they showed absolutely none of the good attacking ability which saw them through in Sofia, and therefore struggled to break down a resolute Welsh rearguard.

The Welsh demonstrated confidence following their 2-1 triumph over Montenegro. Despite the lack of Craig Bellamy and David Vaughan in the team, they kept the ball superbly well and appeared to dominate ball possession.

They were happy to keep hold of the ball and try to drag the English defence out of shape. Unfortunately, the final ball into the penalty box or effort on goal sadly lacked quality to pose any threats on Joe Hart’s goal.

The Welsh dealt easily with the lacklustre performance of their opposition. A lack of movement by the Three Lions made the job so much easier for Ashley Williams and Darcy Blake who held the fort well in the Wales defence.

Going forward, Aaron Ramsey was the star of the show. He bossed the midfield and got Wales playing some great football, while pressing Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard into elementary mistakes.

The other big threat for Wales, Gareth Bale, had a rather more difficult evening. Marked, and occasionally kicked out of the game by a combination of James Milner and Ashley Cole, he couldn’t pose the threat which manager Gary Speed would have liked.

He was played down the right hand side which was a surprise. To put him up against a high-quality opponent such as Cole was strange, especially when there was a newcomer to the England team, Chris Smalling, took his place on the other side and perhaps that was an area which Wales could have taken advantage of.

But Wales put in a performance which should give their supporters hope for the future. In terms of ball retention, they did superbly well. It was just that killer touch which was missing and 99 times out of 100, Robert Earnshaw would bury the open goal which fell his way and was blazed over the crossbar.

Finally, extremely sad news broke after the game of Mike Dye, a Wales fan who was assaulted and died before the game. My thoughts go out to his friends and family. Going to a football match to support your team should not be a life or death experience.


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