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Wales : It’s over Rob, it’s time to go
Sunday, 9th Jun 2024 22:02 by Swansea Independent

Wales fielded a changed side to the picks manager Rob Page made against Gibraltar a few days ago. Notably Swansea City’s Liam Cullen starting on the bench. The Swans had Ben Cabango in the starting line up for the second time in this weeks training camp and friendly matches. Charlie Crew looked delighted to be on the bench.

The Wales side started as below.

The early exchanges saw Slovakia fail to take a couple of chances and Wales on the break were too slow to get in a more dangerous cross which avoided Kieffer Moore. We did see a more aggressive side to Wales as Ethan Ampadu led by example before the game slowed down. A good estimate of travelling fans behind the goal would be five hundred. However, there were many more sprinkled around the ground. However, on the pitch Wales were far quicker on the ball in the early exchanges only being denied by poor passing as ten minutes came and went.

Despite Wales missing numerous experienced first team players, and there were quite a few Moore crashed in to the Slovak keeper on eleven minutes after a decent cross from Dan James. He hit Dúbravka hard and that was a clear softening up of the Slovak keeper. Good work. He will have an eye on Moore for sure the next time the ball is in the air. This was a strong Slovakian side who will take on Belgium, Ukraine and Romania in this months Euros in Germany.

Wales pressed and on seventeen minutes Dan James had a snap shot blocked after good work from Jordan James. It has to be said this effort from Wales was unrecognisable to the embarrassment in the 0-0 draw against Gibraltar. Jay Dasilva was combining well with Ampadu but the significant factor was the breakdown of moves as the away side pressed. Wales defended well on twenty three minutes when an aggressive shot was very well blocked by the Wales captain, Ampadu. From the corner Slovakia scored, but it was disallowed, a good decision from the referee’s assistant. The player was just offside. However, there was the first warning shot, or header if you prefer.

The long passes continued to go out of play, but this Slovakian team were intent on winning this game. They were getting closer when first Stanislav Lobotka aggressively won a free kick in midfield. Again another chance went awry from the build up. Duda is one of the most impressive corner takers in Europe, and once again we saw the value of his set piece work. Wales cleared. From that move Josh Sheehan just got ahead of Róbert Boženík who would have had a tap in as Wales were looking wobbly.

As we have previously mentioned Duda at the back and in midfield was clearing up the ball well, he was a hard man to dispossess or close down. Another opportunity for Dan James on thirty four minutes in the oppositions area was blocked and Josh Sheehan took the corner. Ben Cabango made a mess of his opportunity to put the ball back into danger. Sheehan provided a superb ball into the home sides area on thirty seven minutes which Moore headed well but the keeper clawed his effort away for a corner. From that corner Cabango did really well heading towards the goal and the Slovaks scrambled the ball away. Sheehan’s dead balls were proving very difficult for the home side to deal with. These were two good opportunities for Wales to take the lead.

Good work from Brennan Johnson and Nathan Broadhead led to another corner minutes later, but really Broadhead should have done far better when he had sight of goal. This livened up proceedings but Slovakia were finding it difficult to find that final crucial ball. The battle between Moore and Škriniar continued with the two big men duelling well. It seemed though any advantage Wales were given they just fell foul of silly mistakes or unforced errors.

It was coming - and in the last minute before half time Juraj Kucka picked the ball up some distance out and sent a swirling shot beyond Danny Ward, it looked like it was deflected, it wasn’t and Ward has to be questioned on his positioning. Seconds later the half time whistle went, and once again Wales were in deficit.

There were no changes as the second half started with Wales widening the pitch. That was as may be but Slovakia cheered on by a poor crowd were again looking the better side. A corner on forty eight minutes saw Ward completely missing the flight of the ball but he eventually got ahold of the ball. Wales were having to defend deep and aggressively. Cabango clearing on fifty minutes for another corner. The rest could have gone anywhere, but it was Moore who flicked as corner number seven followed. Ward was attacked from that corner with Lobotka so close to scoring.

It was noted that Wales were now four and a half hours of play without scoring.

Dan James was working hard but he was the target of some nasty little taps to his ankle area out on the left. Cabango had to clear up a lovely move on fifty five minutes, but it just seemed likely a second goal was coming for the team in blue. And it came. The second goal came from a delightful cross out on the Slovaks left by Hancko, his drilled in pass was beautifully met by Boženík to slot home. Thoughts of a landslide were confirmed on fifty nine minutes when a lovely cross field pass was dramatically met by Lobotka whose choice of shot was met by Boženík again and it seemed his shot deflected off Ampadu.

That was 3-0.

Jordan James did have a flash shot minutes later as Page made substitutions. Broadhead and Johnson off for Lewis Koumas and Wes Burns. The result was beyond doubt, so why not give the impressive Koumas a run out ? Slovakia looked relaxed as the last half hour greeted us, Wales looked slow to press leaving the home side to move forwards as they wished. Kucka had a shot which again Sheehan blocked, and Moore was running into offside positions. The Wales national anthem blared out as Wes Burns met a lovely pass from Dan James on sixty seven minutes, his finish was poor and another chance was wasted. It was nice to see Koumas utilising his pace ahead of Dan James and at last Jordan James pushing more forwards to fill a big gap in the attacking half of the pitch.

Wales were still looking for something from the game but they were up against a far more superior side. On seventy minutes Dan James was replaced by the Swans Liam Cullen, and Slovakia made three changes with the result pretty much nailed on. Cullen’s role was clearly to use his pace to press and utilise his awareness with players running in behind him. A big ask for him. The first yellow of the evening went to Moore (who else ?) as he made the keeper do a bit of work from a well drilled shot. Moore again being seen as the villain in the piece.

Slovakia were going through the paces and since going three up bar a couple of Wales chances were not really significantly bothered by the efforts of the away side.

The large Wales support didn’t seem overly bothered either. Having spent a good day in and around Tovarné, and a big welcome from the Slovak fans in the Anton Malatinský stadium, the night was ahead to drown some more sorrows. Numerous bars were populated as the day passed as we can see below. (Photo: Swansea Independent)

That’s the issue with Rob Page, there was much grumbling within the Wales support as chances came and went for the Slovaks. Plus another yellow, this time for Jordan James. It was a pretty much well marshalled performance by the home side. In stoppage time the midfield opened up with nobody around László Bénes as he steadied himself and drove his shot in to the back of Ward’s net.


Robert Page is out of his depth, he is talking about transition and planning in the same way he did eighteen months ago when he should have been removed after the World Cup. This result against a very good Slovakian side was again embarrassing. The technical side of the International game is well beyond the understanding of Page and his elected coaches. His reactions to situations which are clearly evident in front of him are slow - and display signs of a man who met his ceiling in football management many years ago. It’s time now for a change within the coaching set up and the FAW have to act now.

At least give these travelling fans something to cheer.

⚽️ Slovakia: Dubravka; Pekarik, Vavro (De Marco 77), Skriniar, Hancko (Obert 71); Kucka (Bero 82), Lobotka, Duda (Benes 71); Schranz (Suslov 71), Bozenik (Tupta 77), Haraslin

Subs: Rodak, Ravas, Rigo, Gyomber, Hrosovsky, Strelec, Duris, Sauer, Kosa

⚽️ Wales: Ward; Stevens, Ampadu (c), Cabango, Dasilva; J. James, Sheehan; Johnson (Koumas 62), Broadhead (Burns 62), D.James (Cullen 70) Moore

Sub: King, Davies, Low, Baker, Crew, Savage, Colwill, Matondo

Photographs: Horizons, Open Source & Swansea Independent

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