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Wales International 2011

The Millennium Stadium hosted what was to be the first Football Aid match of the 2011 season. Just 24 hours previously Wales and England both graced the hallowed turf in a crucial qualifying match. The pitch was still in perfect condition for what was set to be a thoroughly entertaining encounter. No doubt players on the home team would be hoping for a better result than their heroes managed against England the day before.

Saturday 27th March, Millennium Stadium
Wales vs Rest of the World
Kick Off: 13.30
Match Officials: Julian Hitchcock, Adrian Waters, Steve Gregory & Jon Livingston

The Rest of the World team, wearing white, got the game underway going from right to left. It was the Welsh side however, who threatened first. After beating a man Dean Thorpe was dispossessed by Sharples who played a neat ball out wide to the captain Maguire. Unfortunately for the home side Maguire's cross lacked real accuracy and drifted harmlessly over the bar.

This was a theme that was continued mid way into the first half with both sides struggling to create any clear cut chances. Thomas picked up a loose pass on the half way line before playing the ball to Gary Jones. Jones and Dean Thorpe, who had begun to strike up a good partnership in the centre of midfield, displayed some nice touches before Thorpe sliced open the defence with a great though ball to Lee. Lee then laid the ball in for Jones who had pressed forward to provide support. Only a great sliding tackle from Hamilton-Cooper saw Jones's cut back knocked behind for a corner and keeping the scores level. The away teams pressure paid off as from the corner, captain Marc Halls found space to crash a header in off the underside of the bar. (0-1)

In almost mirror image fashion the Rest of the World team created another great chance. A terrific reverse pass saw Michael Lee played through into the box, Lee squared it to Halls who somehow contrived to knock it past the post. The captain was left wondering how he never doubled his side's advantage.

The game was beginning to look a little more stretched now. Both teams began to move the ball better and started to create from the back. A fine move by the Rest of the World team was brought to an end by Nick Medlicot who looked sharp in goal for the home team. The keeper raced out of his box to intercept the ball from Lee who would have been in on goal. Medlicot's clearance was nodded on by Cope setting up a great chance for Maguire whose effort produced a smart stop from Rich Duffy. However Mark Maguire showed great poachers instinct and found himself in a great position to tuck away the rebound. (1-1)

The Rest of the World team looked to restore their lead straight after the restart. Some good passing moves saw Lee with a decent chance at the edge of the box. Medlicot would have been relieved to see the shot trundle tamely into his arms. Shortly after the away side were given a golden opportunity to restore their lead when Halls latched onto a lose pass and was correctly adjudged to have been brought down in the box. Unfortunately Denley's effort from the spot was somewhat reminiscent of Baggio in the '94 World Cup final as the ball cleared the bar by quite some distance.

With the away side piling on the pressure the Welsh team look to capitalise with some good counter attacking football. Duffy again was called into action as Joe Sharples bore down on goal. At the opposite end Dean Thorpe again split the defence to put Halls in, his effort was blocked well by the outrushing Medlicot. The home side looked content to soak up the pressure and defend deeply as the Rest of the World team probed for a way through to goal. Medlicot was again called into action as his tipped a speculative effort from Denley onto the bar. It was Jones who would next go close with a good long range effort but Medlicot was equal to the task knocking the ball behind for a corner. Jones would again go close minutes later when a close range shot on the outside of the boot was parried by the home keeper. Medlicot then scrambled across goal to block an attempt by the lurking Bob Thorpe.

Both sides began to struggle to create chances in the final stages of the first half. John Denley would go close with an attempted chip but he watched as the ball dipped agonisingly late. It ended one a piece with the Rest of the World team looking the better so far.

Half-Time: Wales 1 - 1 Rest of the World

The second half started at a furious pace as both teams looked to impose themselves on the game. Wales came close when a Maguire cross flashed across the face of goal. No one was in position for the home team to take advantage however. Adrian Alcock almost put the home side ahead with a well struck free kick but found Duffy too good as the big keeper pushed the ball to safety.

The home side now had their tales up and were beginning to work their way back into the game. With the match now more evenly balanced clear cut chances seemed to be a thing of the past. After a great flick on in the middle of the park Wales were lucky to still have eleven men on the park when Jones, who was the last man, brought down Halls who had sprinted clear of the defence. Hamilton-Cooper then found himself with a golden opportunity but all he could do was blaze over from six yards.

It was the Rest of the World team who would again take the lead after a quick throw from Forbes put Denley in the clear. His cross was knocked down to D. Thorpe who took his time to pick his spot only for Alcock to block the ball on the line. From Alcock's block the ball came off the ball for Marc Halls to send a looping header into the corner of the net. (1-2)

Forbes was then unlucky to see his after crash back off the woodwork after some calamitous defending by the home team. Wales then came close to an equaliser after Hewitt narrowly fired wide. The game had now become an end to end affair with both teams passing up some decent chances. Mid way through the half Denley finally sprang the offside trap and forced a great save from Medlicot who did well to keep his side in the game. Wales broke quickly through the tireless Poonia who played the ball wide for a cross to be whipped in which found James Hewitt unmarked who coolly clipped in a finished past helpless keeper. (2-2)

Both sides were now battling hard in an attempt to gain the lead. It was the Rest of the World team who again managed to gain the upper hand. This time a great solo goal from John Denley who cut in from the by line beating two players to slot the ball passed Medlicot. (2-3)

The away team then sought to kill off the game and began to press forward. But in the dying embers of the game it was a brave Welsh side who would find the equalising goal. From an away corner Welsh defender Adrian Alcock's headed clearance was picked up by Joe Sharples at the edge of his own box. Sharples then took the ball on a magnificent 80 yard run beating three players to fire the ball home past Duffy who could only manage to get his finger tips to the ball. (3-3)

Both teams pushed in search of a winner but some stoic defending by both sides ensured the match ended all square in what was a thoroughly entertaining encounter at the Welsh national stadium.

Full-Time: Wales 3 - 3 Rest of the World

Man of the Match Home: Nick Medlicot
Man of the Match Away: Dean Thorpe
Moment of the Match: Joe Sharples

Home Team: Medlicott, Jones, Alcock, Evans, Davies, Sharples, Cope, Hamilton-Cooper, Poonia, Maguire, (subs) Thomas, Hewitt, Jones, Athay

Mascot: Freddy Alcock

Away Team: Duffy, Thomas, David. Thorpe, R. Thorpe, Jones, Lee, Lawson, Denley, Dean Thorpe, Hall, (subs) Maclure, Forbes, Gibbard

Mascots: Matthew Thorpe, James Thorpe & Owen Duffy