Independent Schools FA U18 v Welsh Colleges

6pm  17 December 2014

Representative Game
Independent Schools FA U18 2 Welsh Colleges 1 (att 47) at St George's Park

The last time I visited the FA's National Football Centre, St George's Park, was in 2009. Back then it was mothballed, and consisted of temporary buildings and a few pitches, one of which staged a Burton Albion youth team game.

That was played on what is now "pitch 12", aka the "Gordon Banks pitch". Tonight's game was on "pitch 5", not yet named after anyone, but close to the car park and the massive football centre that, along with a Hilton hotel and conference centre, dominates the sprawling site.

St George's Park is undoubtedly impressive. In tandem with this fixture the ISFA's under 16s were playing on a full-size indoor pitch ("pitch 7", named after Sir Alf Ramsey).

For spectators the facilities at pitch 5 are spartan. It's just a floodlit pitch surrounded by advertising boards, with no shelter from the rain and hard standing provided by a footpath on just one side. Shame they didn't play on the unused "pitch 6", which has a seated stand along one side.

The cream of players from the English public schools system deserved this win against the Welsh Colleges, despite a late scare. They scored both their goals during a first half in which they looked the much better side.

The Welsh were better in the second half, but couldn't take their chances. When they were on target the ISFA keeper made some good saves. He could do nothing about a stoppage time penalty though, and as the offence resulted in an ISFA red card the final moments saw a frantic finish, with the Welsh coming close to equalising, but the Independent Schools held on to win.

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