Academy duo help Wales triumph in Victory Shield encounter against England

Grecians pairing involved in Young Dragons' victory in Wales

Exeter City’s Academy duo Max Smallcombe and Ethan Ampadu helped the Wales Under-16 squad to a 1-0 victory against England Under-16 in their first match in the Victory Shield.

The competition, which sees under-16 sides from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland compete in a round-robin format, began last Friday for the Young Dragons as they hosted the Young Lions at The Book People Stadium, home of Bangor City.

And on a mild North Wales evening, a biased crowd of 1,476 were treated to a Welsh male voice choir as entertainment before the match, followed by a stirring rendition of both national anthems.

Smallcombe, 15, started the match in a holding midfielder role, and maintained that position throughout the game.  England probably shaded the first half with more aggressive play up front but a determined Wales defence kept them at bay.

A sweeping rainstorm greeted the second half as the wind funnelled up the Menai Straits, but it not long after the break Wales took the lead.  In the third minute of the second half, it was a corner from Smallcombe which bobbled around in the box before being forced home by Liam Angel of Cardiff City.

Chances followed at both ends with the deteriorating weather conditions making constructive play difficult.  After 63 minutes, 14-year-old Ethan Ampadu came on as substitute and took his place alongside Max in midfield. 

The two of them helped keep England at bay as the visitors desperately tried to find a way through Wales’ defence.  However, Wales held out for a famous victory and the wild celebrations at the end showed how important this win was to them.

Both Max and Ethan played their part in the victory and, as the only Welsh players from a League 2 side, they were a shining example of the quality being produced by Exeter City’s Academy.