Ahead of the Scotland v Wales match at the Oriam, Craig Taylor provides the scouting report on the young Dragons team, with an interesting international representation side-story.
Winners of the last two Victory Shield tournaments, Wales could feel quite within their rights to enter this year’s tournament on a wave of euphoria. Before the previous two tournaments the Welsh Under-16s had only won the trophy outright once and along with the monumental summer for the national team, reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2016, there were numerous reasons to be cheerful for Welsh football entering this year’s Sky Sports Victory Shield. However, an opening game 4-0 defeat to the Republic of Ireland has dampened hopes of achieving a historic third victory. So what can Scotland expect from their next opponents?
Despite Wales’ success last year, Scotland enjoyed victory over them in their clash last time out, triumphing 2-1 over the young Dragons. However, it is likely to be a very different prospect at this tournament. This tournament’s Welsh squad has ten youngsters currently on the books of English Premier League teams, including Dan Barnham at English footballing giants Arsenal and Morgan Boyes, Neco Williams and Dan Griffiths all at powerhouse Liverpool, proving that there is real quality within the Welsh ranks. There are a number of home based players as well, with Swansea City, Wrexham and in particular Cardiff City ensuring that there are eight Welsh based players in their squad of 22.
The stand out name for many from a Scottish perspective however will be that of Wales’ captain Terry Taylor. Taylor currently plies his trade in Scotland for Aberdeen and could potentially come up against his Dons team mates Archie Mair and Dean Campbell in Tuesday’s clash. Taylor is seen as one of Aberdeen’s most promising youngsters having been voted the club’s Under-16 player of the year last season and has already played at Under-20 level for the Dons. However, the Aberdeen born youngster’s decision to represent Wales, the country of his mother, will give the match an interesting side story.
While Scotland enter the second game knowing that a win would set them up with a potential cup final against the Republic of Ireland, Wales enter Tuesday’s match knowing that it is a must win if they are to have any chance of lifting a third consecutive Victory Shield. The 4-0 defeat to an impressive Republic of Ireland side was the Dragons’ biggest Victory Shield defeat since their 4-0 loss to England in 2005 and will have been a bruising affair for a side so used to recent success in this tournament. However, the memory of coming back from an opening game defeat in last year’s tournament to emerge victorious will provide a healthy dose of inspiration for the Welsh side. The young Scots will have to be very wary of an already wounded Dragon, especially when it’s one who has made a habit of rewriting its country’s footballing history in recent years and achieving what once seemed impossible. For these young Welsh players, Tuesday’s match against Scotland will provide a final chance to win a historic third consecutive Victory Shield and in turn, round off what has most probably been the greatest year in Welsh footballing history.