A late flurry of goals for Wales, secured a 3-0 victory against Iceland at Llanelli’s Stebonheath Park, as they prepared for their opening UEFA Under 21 Championship qualification campaign, against Moldova at Parc-y-Scarlets next month. (reports Robert Clement)
Following an evenly contested opening first half which finished goalless, the friendly fixture finally exploded into life during the final twelve minutes.
It was Wesley Burns whose name was to be the first on the score sheet, with a delightful chipped delivery over advancing keeper Rúnar Rúnarsson after 78 minutes from the Bristol City academy player, with him having recently made his debut for the Ashton Gate outfit against Leicester City.
Within two minutes of establishing that breakthrough, Crystal Palace midfielder Jonathan Williams made a timely arrival, applying a sweetly struck shot in the top corner of the net, by the former Tunbridge Wells student.
The outcome was finally put beyond doubt with three minutes remaining, when Wrexham’s, Coventry born Robert Ogleby despatched a quality drive home, for the third goal.
Wales captain Lee Lucas then spoke with Robert Clement in the Jock Stein Suite, commenting about the all important outcome.“Yes, it’s a good win for us; it’s our first game together going into the new campaign, so it builds confidence”.
“I think that it was a good first forty five minutes although neither Iceland or ourselves managed to make the breakthrough; we were not under too much pressure, and yet we were unable to make the vital impact to take the lead”.
“We defended well as a unit, and to end the half 0-0 was pleasing; it was then our aim in the second period to maintain a clean sheet and create opportunities to go and score, which we did towards the end”.
The Aberdare born Swansea City midfielder then remarked on the timely arrival of Wesley Burns.
“He did very well having come off the bench to score within about fifteen minutes; he’s a quick player who causes problems to the oppositions defence, and he took his goal well with a good finish from him, to be fair”.
Lucas added. “It was important that we managed to score first, and then to add to it within two minutes was even better, with Jonathan Williams on form”.
“We were then fortunate to finish off with a third goal from Robert Ogleby, with him getting into a good position to pounce onto a goalkeeper error”
Lucas then commented about the captaincy of the team. “It’s a great honour, and a dream to take charge of your country, it’s a brilliant feeling and also with it being a winning occasion and I’m now really looking forward to the first game in the group against Moldova in a few weeks time”.
“Parc-y-Scarlets is a nice stadium, and it will be important to get a winning start there, but you cannot take it for granted that the three points will be ours, but hopefully a repeat outcome like we’ve had here today would be very satisfying”.
Lucas, who had a loan spell at Burton Albion last season, responded to England also being in the group qualifiers.
“It’s very interesting, It’s always nice to play England, they’re a good side that will test us, but if we get off to a good start and successfully build a bit of momentum you never know when we face them in March next year, we’ll certainly give them a good game to which I’m definitely looking forward to”.
New Wales under 21 coach Geraint Williams saw his side produce their first win under his control at the third attempt.
Wales youngsters scored three times in the closing minutes through Wes Burns, Jonathan Williams and Robert Ogleby to secure a deserved victory in this friendly at Llanelli’s Stebonheath Park.
It was an excellent warm-up for Wales’ opening UEFA Under 21 championship qualifiers, which start at home to Moldova next month, in a group that also includes Finland, Lithuania and San Marino.
Wales had three new caps in their starting line-up, Liverpool’s former Wrexham ‘keeper Danny Ward, Swansea’s Scott Tancock and Manchester United youngster Tom Lawrence.
And the hosts could have been ahead after just 15 seconds. Winger Jonathan Williams raced down the left and saw his shot from the edge of the box clip the bar.
Wales held the upper hand for long spells, without being able to turn their possession into goals, although Wolves’ Jake Cassidy was only inches away from connecting with a Billy Bodin cross from the left after good approach play from Kieron Freeman.
A stunning run down the right by Lawrence produced a low cross that failed to find a target as Wales maintained their superiority.
Iceland started to get into the game, but the closest they came was a 25 yard free-kick from Juventus full-back Hordur Thorarinsson that flashed wide after half an hour.
Wales had Tancock booked for a foul on Andri Yeoman early in the second period, before Ward produced two fine saves to keep Iceland at bay. First he was out quickly to deflect a shot from substitute Arnor Traustason wide, and then produce an equally brave block to thwart Kristjan Emilsson when he was clear.
Williams sent on four substitutes after 64 minutes Lloyd Isgrove, Wes Burns and Chris Dawson all coming on for their debuts, while Wrexham’s Robert Ogleby also got a run out. Billy Bodin, Cassidy,Lee Lucas and Lawrence all making way.
Ogleby almost made an instant impact,. Failing by inches a couple of yards out to connect with Burns’ driven cross.
After 75 minutes, Wales made three more substitutions, including Cheltenham ‘keeper Connor Roberts making his debut, also coming on were Aaron Oakley and Jonathan Meades. They replaced Ward,Tancock and Joe Walsh.
It was another substitute, Bristol City’s Burns, who broke the deadlock after 78 minutes when he raced clear into a long ball to chip a neat lob over the advancing Runar Runarsson.
Two minutes later Wales made it two when Dawson’s pass sent in Williams for a a fierce drive into the top corner. With three minutes to go, Ogleby was on hard to blast a shot into the roof of the net from close range.
The teams were:
1. Danny Ward (Liverpool)
2. Elliot Hewitt (Ipswich Town)
3. Kieron Freeman (Derby County)
4. Lee Lucas (Swansea City) ©
5. Joe Walsh (Crawley Town)
6. Scott Tancock (Swansea City)
7. Billy Bodin (Torquay United)
8. Emyr Huws (Manchester City)
9. Jake Cassidy (Wolverhampton Wand.)
10. Tom Lawrence (Manchester United)
11. Jonathan Williams (Crystal Palace)
12. Connor Roberts (Cheltenham Town)
13. Jonathan Meades (AFC Bournemouth)
14. Lloyd Isgrove (Southampton)
15. Chris Dawson (Leeds United)
16. Wes Burns (Bristol City)
17. Robert Ogleby (Wrexham)
18. Aaron Oakley (Swindon Town)
12. Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson (KR)
2. Sverrir Ingi Ingason (Breidablik)
3. Hjörtur Hermannsson (PSV Eindhoven)
4. Orri Sigurdur Ómarsson (AGF)
5. Hördur Björgvin Magnússon (Juventus)
6. Gudmundur Thórarinsson (Sarpsborg) ©
7. Andri Rafn Yeoman (Breidablik)
8. Emil Pálsson (FH)
9. Oliver Sigurjónsson (AGF)
10. Emil Atlason (KR)
11. Kristján Gauti Emilsson (FH)
1. Árni Freyr Ásgeirsson (Keflavik)
13. Brynar Gauti Gudjónsson (ÍBV)
14. Arnór Ingvi Traustason (Keflavik)
15. Gunnar Thorsteinsson (Ipswich Town)
16. Hólmbert Fridjónsson (Fram)
17. Árni Vilhjálmsson (Breidablik)
18. Sindri Snær Magnússon (Breidablik)