Ireland u21s in friendly victory over Wales

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Jonathan Afolabi

Jonathan Afolabi and a Morgan Boyes own goal helped Ireland to the win.

Ireland u21s took the field for the first time since November as they faced Wales in a friendly match this afternoon. The fixture marked the first time the two nations met at that age level.

Although there were no competitive consequences to come from the match, places were still up for grabs and players would have been keen to impress, particularly with the European Championship qualifiers coming up in September.

FIRST HALF

The opening minutes of the match were scrappy as both teams struggled to gain a foothold of proceedings, much due to the weather conditions.

Wales were, however, becoming increasingly dominant and that paid off in the 11th minute. Welsh midfielder Joe Adams – who plays for Brentford – opened the scoring with a precise finish into the bottom corner after some great work down the right flank by his compatriot.

The Welsh began to dominate after the goal, controlling much of the possession and creating a handful of chances. They could have easily scored another in the minutes following the goal with the pressure they applied.

They didn’t convert again, though, and the first half finished 1-0 to Wales.

Ireland failed to register a single shot on target in the half and a much better 45 minutes to follow was necessary for Jim Crawford’s side.

SECOND HALF

Ireland started the second half much better than they had played in the first. They controlled much of the possession and were looking increasingly dangerous in the final third.

Their first real opportunity of the contest came in the 57th minute. Derby County midfielder Louie Watson did well to play in captain Lee O’Connor who galloped into the box and shot from a somewhat tight angle. Unfortunately, though, it was straight at the Welsh ‘keeper and he gathered with ease.

Although Ireland were dominating play in the second half, Wales had the best chance of the half. Birmingham City midfielder Ryan Stirk found himself in the box and was fortunate enough to find the ball right at his feet after a bounce off an Irish defender, however, his effort was wayward despite having the time and space to score.

Wales would come to regret their missed chance(s) as Ireland managed to grab an equalizer in the 76th minute. Borussia Mönchengladbach 20-year-old Conor Noß did brilliantly down the byline as he took on and beat his man before skimming the ball across the box which was met by Celtic striker Jonathan Afolabi who could hardly miss.

In a bizarre turn of events, Ireland went ahead just a minute later through a Welsh own goal courtesy of Morgan Boyes. His misplaced backpass to the ‘keeper sailed into the net to make it 2-1 to Ireland.

Jonathan Afolabi had a golden opportunity to get his second of the afternoon just a couple of minutes later. Substitute Conor Grant played a brilliant cross into his feet but he shot wide of the goal. Ireland were really beginning to assert their dominance on the game now.

Ireland certainly made up for a poor first half with a dominant second half performance. The full-time whistle sounded with the scoreline at 2-1 to Ireland.

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