18 January 2020 v Wales O40s at USW Treforest
Once again we come to sunny Cardiff and once again it is far from sunny. That said, we would be playing indoors at the University of South Wales facility at Treforest, a venue that compares favourably with St Georges Park apart from the intense cold (the indoor pitch has to be kept at a constant temperature and it is much colder than SGP for some reason plus the condensation drips on everything...including the back of my neck...brrrr).
Anyways, onto the game. First up this weekend would be Wales Over 40s and it would be a tough fixture. The first 15 minutes were mostly nip and tuck with the Wales boys having the better of both the nip and the tuck!! Baker sustained a head injury and was then subbed to be replaced by Butt in the 17th minute and the pattern continued until the 22nd minute when Wanless collected a through ball from Bryan, cut inside the right edge of the box and smashed a screamer into the top corner with his left foot. A superb goal, probably against the run of play but we’ll take that. 1-0 RAF. Wales tried to respond but Stones in the RAF goal was imperious whilst the Welsh forwards were profligate in their chances. In the 28th minute they were made to pay again when the RAF won a free kick a good 40 yards from goal. Bartley played in a beaut of a ball and whilst the Wales defence looked for offside, Wanless steamed in to head powerfully past the despairing keeper. 2-0 RAF. In the 35th minute, Duke was through on goal after a superb ball from Wanless but as he bore down on goal...he fell over!! Oh my, Ulrika was watching too!! That almost cost the RAF as the Reds went down the other end only for the ball to come flying back off the post following a drive by the Wales number 7. Wales continued coming forward but the half time whistle came to the rescue of the RAF and they went in surprised but satisfied with the scoreline. HT RAF 2-0 Wales
The second half started in much the same vein as the first had ended, Wales on the attack with only a brilliant save by Stones in the 47th minute keeping Wales at bay. The incessant Welsh onslaught was to pay dividends however in the 50th minute when they were awarded a penalty for handball by Barker and it was dispatched coolly leaving Stones rooted to the spot. 2-1 RAF. Just a minute later, a mistake by Stones gave the ball to a Welsh forward. The goalkeeper quickly made up for his error though with a brilliant save and the ball was cleared. The RAF were slowly getting themselves back into the game though and were creating chances of their own and both goalkeepers were now two of the busiest players on the pitch. In the 67th minute, great work by Bartley saw the ball fed to Robison who in turn fed Reeves. His shot cannoned back off the post before Wales go up the other end and score only for the goal to be ruled out for offside following a discussion between the ref and one of his assistants (who needs VAR?). In the last 15 minutes, both goalkeepers kept the score as it was with each making a number of outstanding saves and with no further goals, the game ended with a 2-1 victory to the RAF.
An excellent start to 2020 against excellent opposition and a hard earned win under their belts, the RAF could now celebrate and ready themselves for tomorrow’s opposition. Dave Wanless narrowly won MoM ahead of Stonesy and Leon Duke deservedly got Ulrika but for how long? Well it was about 5 minutes as he said he couldn’t make the aftermatch. He was given the opportunity of asking a player to look after her for him and he chose...Dave Wanless (his face was a picture, two awards in one game!!). Thanks to Craig Gill for sorting the venue, to the Wales lads for hosting and to Snowy at the Rose and Crown in Pontypridd for the post match food and refreshments.