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    Young Guns update


    Young Guns by John Jones.

    Another pleasurable event from my perspective of attending a Wales U-21 match as well as finally having the opportunity to meet in person with Neil Roberts. Also, unfortunately a disappointment as the 1-1 result was not one I expected, but one that has to be admitted the Luxembourg team thoroughly deserved. Although having as previously mentioned seen the team outplayed by an impressive Danish side, judging by what had previously gone on in the group games, a Welsh victory was what the more than seven hundred crowd at Bangor’s Nantporth ground would have expected, as did myself and Neil.

    The first bit of credit has to be awarded to the Luxembourg team, they were better that I expected and were more than willing to be an attacking force whenever possible, rather than exhibit the defensive posture of an underdog. As a result, it was largely an evenly poised match with Wales unable to produce any sort of dominance which may have been supposed, based on the previous reputation of the players involved. In a fairly even first half Wales were very guilty of underachievement as they persisted too often with many long balls from just inside their own half, all were generally of a hopeful nature rather than being penetrative and the level of performance by the Luxembourg defensive players resulted in them coping very easily with all Welsh attacking moves in that mode. When Wales did on occasion try a different route, the build-up was far too slow in a development process and as they worked on penetration, close control, passing, positional awareness and crosses were more often than not well below the quality needed to pressurize the opposition defensive posture. Luxembourg attacked fairly often on the break after Welsh failings and took the lead through such an instance with the added ignominy of the interception of a poorly placed attempted Welsh pass just outside the penalty box. A debatable call a few minutes later produced the awarding of a penalty kick which was very well saved by keeper O’Brien and kept the score line at 1-0 at the half.

    The second half resulted in an improved Welsh display as they provided a higher tempo, sadly lacking for the first 45 minutes and much more of the game being an attempt to put the visitors under pressure. Again, although there were some decent efforts and the need for the Luxembourg keeper to make a couple of good saves, the level of precision and inventiveness needed to produce a penetrative effect was on the whole insufficient. A very late goal was in general very much a deserved conclusion as Wales clawed the drawn result, some who watched may have felt there was a possible claim that victory would have been a just ending, but had they somehow achieved it, as much as I am always happy to see a positive Wales result at all levels of play, I have already conceded that Luxembourg deserved at least a draw.

    Something of a long dissertation talking about an occasion quite a bit in the past for football interest but unfortunately I couldn’t devote the needed time prior to now.  Just to finish I will add that the same comments as I made for the Danish game are pertinent, quite a few of the Welsh lads have the basic tools in abundance but by the same token a very measurable improvement needs to occur for them to grace the higher echelons of their trade. It can possibly be achieved with a good amount of dedicated effort on their part. I, in no way want to belittle the considerable amount of sacrifice they have most likely provided to attain what is already heady heights for the many who possess that dream to be in such a position as youngsters, it is just that I feel that they can make another step forward in their progress with a concerted effort to eliminate mistakes. There has never been a football player who does not make a mistake, it is just that the best ones make fewer than the rest, that is the key to success.

    A brief mention of the U-19 friendly matches with Iceland is about all that I can provide as I did not attend and was able to see very little reported on the matches. The group contained some notable members which give some promise for the future of Wales international football being maintained at a potentially successful level. A defeat seemingly as a result of some individual brilliance by a very talented player and a draw were the results of the two matches played. The matches were apparently used as much as an opportunity to evaluate the players involved in a competitive nature as it was an attempt to create positive results, a step needed in determining the composition for future matches. Using the assumption that Icelandic football teams at all levels are something of an of what has been achieved by their senior team lately, then one can guess that the outcome is to some degree acceptable.

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    Posted: Saturday 10th September 2016
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