2 November 2012

England reign in Welsh rain

England's players celebrate Dominic Solanke's winning goal.
WALES 0-1 ENGLAND
England overcame adverse weather conditions in Port Talbot to see off Wales and put one hand on the Victory Shield.

Kenny Swain fielded an entirely different starting XI from that which thrashed Northern Ireland in September, but the young Lion cubs still won to ensure that England will at least share the Shield this year.

Wales wingers Danny Byrnes and Daniel James both caught the eye in the early stages. A third-minute through-ball from Byrnes set up James for the first chance of the night, but England keeper Dean Henderson showed great composure in coming forward to stop the Hull City prospect.

Chances would be few and far between in the first half. Joshua Onomah did go on a promising run for England in the 18th minute but couldn't supply the killer pass to striker Denzil Boadu. Tottenham Hotspur's Onomah had the first genuine English chance of the game three minutes when his shot went just over.

After 25 minutes, the game was still goalless despite a great opportunity for Boadu, who was thwarted from close-range by Welsh custodian Luke Pilling.

Moments later, a heavy hailstorm prompted the referee to temporarily halt play until it subsided. The storm took what little momentum there was out of the game, and the first half fizzled out with neither team troubling the scoreboard.

The introduction of Mukhtar Ali for the second half gave England a midfielder of great potential. He dictated play for the Three Lions after the restart.

Charlton Athletic defender Joe Gomez - who was being scouted by Liverpool and Chelsea - had a 51st-minute shot cleared off the line, but three minutes later, England finally breached the home defence. A fine pass from the left flank by Boadu set up Chelsea's Dominic Solanke, who coolly finished from six yards out.

Connor Lemonheigh-Evans had a couple of chances to quickly draw Wales level, but his finishing wasn't crisp enough. After 58 minutes, he should have equalised when Henderson's wayward pass was intercepted by James, who cut the ball to Lemonheigh-Evans in the middle of the box, but the Bristol City boy fired over.

A free-kick from Wales captain Joseff Morrell on 69 minutes caught Henderson off his guard a bit, but fortunately for the goalie, the shot went just too high. At the other end, Ali tested Pilling with a swerving shot four minutes later.

Late in the game, there was the chance to see Wales substitute Ellis Bellamy - the son of a certain Craig Bellamy. As rain poured down on the pitch, England managed to hold on for the three points.

After two wins in two, England will now at the very worst retain the Victory Shield, which they have held since 2001, and a point against Scotland will ensure a seventh successive outright victory for them. Two successive defeats for Wales have ended their hopes of glory.

WALES: Pilling; Harries, Graham, Evans, Smith; Humphries, Menayese; Byrnes (Edge), Morrell (Bellamy), James; Penny (Lemonheigh-Evans).
Booked: Evans 6.

ENGLAND: Henderson; Suliman (Cameron), Borthwick-Jackson, Gomez, Kenny; Cooke (Ali), Ledson; Solanke (King), Rashford (Walsh), Onomah; Boadu (Nabay).
SCORER: Solanke 54.

TDTR Man of the Match: Joshua Onomah (England). The winger was a big danger down the flanks to Wales, particularly in the first half, and could've got himself on the scoresheet.

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