Wales – Qualification for Italia ’90

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Preview

In Wales, Terry Yorath had recently taken up the manager’s role after a long reign by his predecessor Mike England, who had failed to guide the British country to either of Spain ’82, France ’84, Mexico ’86 and West Germany ’88. After four failed attempts at qualifying for a major international tournament, though no qualification tournament under Mike England had ever left them more than two points away from actual qualification, the Welsh FA will have felt the need for a change. Yorath started his first job at international level on a part-time basis, as he was still managing Swansea, one of four Welsh clubs participating in the English Football League, whom he had taken from the fourth to the third division, winning the 1987/88 play-offs. A rather eccentric character, his biography “Hard man, hard knocks” (2004) will surely be an interesting read. Yorath’s assistant was Peter Shreeves, whose acquaintance Yorath had made whilst they were both at Tottenham around 1979/80: Yorath as player, Shreeves as reserve team manager. Read more . . .

Results

Qualifier 1: Netherlands 1–0 Wales
14.09.1988
Olympisch Stadion, Amsterdam
Line-up (4-4-2): Southall – Hall, Nicholas, Knill, Blackmore – Williams, Horne, Davies, Aizlewood – Hughes (Saunders 78), Rush (c).
In his first competitive match in charge, Yorath opted for a defensive approach, something which was hardly surprising given the nature of the opposition. The Welsh rode their luck at times, and saw a number of fine stops from their excellent ‘keeper Southall, but had to admit defeat after a late goal.

Qualifier 2: Wales 2–2 Finland
19.10.1988
Vetch Field, Swansea
Goals: Saunders (pen.), Lahtinen (own goal)
Line-up (4-4-2): Southall – Hall (Bowen 58), Van Den Hauwe, Ratcliffe (c), Blackmore – Saunders, Nicholas, Horne, Pascoe – Rush, Hughes.
For the home fixture against Finland, Yorath chose a much more attack-minded eleven, with Saunders and Pascoe down the flanks. Some sloppiness at the back saw the visitors draw level in first half injury time, after a penalty and an own goal, after a wonderful move, had put Wales in front. Saunders missed a second half penalty which had erringly been awarded to him by the poor Icelandic official. Disappointing for the Welsh not to beat an opponent they would need maximum points from to stand a chance of challenging for second spot. Effectively game over already as far as qualifying went.

Friendly: Israel 3–3 Wales
08.02.1989
Goals: Horne, Aharoni (own goal), M Allen
Line-up (4-4-2): Dibble – Hall (Slatter 68), Nicholas, Ratcliffe (c), Bowen – Williams (M Allen 68), Horne, Blackmore, Pascoe – Saunders, Hughes.

Friendly: Wales 0–2 Sweden
26.04.1989
Line-up (3-4-3): Southall – Nicholas (Aizlewood 67), Ratcliffe (c), Van Den Hauwe – Phillips, Horne, Williams, Bowen – Saunders, Rush, Hughes
This is most likely Yorath’s first attempt at 3-4-3 with Wales, with Nicholas at the heart of the defence alongside Van Den Hauwe and Ratcliffe, allowing for Saunders to join the front line, and with Phillips and Bowen as wing backs. Williams would be in central midfield alongside Horne.

Qualifier 3: Wales 0–0 West Germany
31.05.1989
Arms Park, Cardiff
Line-up (3-4-3): Southall – Nicholas, Ratcliffe (c), Aizlewood – Blackmore (Bowen 81), Horne, Williams (Pascoe 81), Phillips – Saunders, Rush, Hughes
Wales give their all, but are ultimately content to settle for a draw against mighty opposition. Horne has a very eventful game in the middle of the park, and the visitors find it difficult to live with his tenacity. The same man’s lucky not to be sent off or even booked for a wild two-footed lunge on Reinhardt early in the second half. Wales also owed some debt to Southall for keeping out a second half Häßler effort from distance, whereas Rush came within a whisker of breaching the deadlock right on half time.

Qualifier 4: Finland 1-0 Wales
06.09.1989, Olympiastadion (Helsinki)
Line-up (3-4-3): Southall – Aizlewood, Ratcliffe (c), Nicholas (Maguire 89) – Blackmore, Williams (Bowen 81), Davies, Phillips – Saunders, Rush, Hughes
Wales seemed somewhat reluctant to accept the battle, and were bullied by physical opponents. The alledged ‘world class’ forward three never had much of a say, and they were desperately poor in central midfield. The wide players were also unable to offer much support, and the game was decided from an early second half corner kick. The Welsh are officially out of contention for the World Cup.

Qualifier 5: Wales 1-2 Netherlands
11.10.1989, Racecourse Ground (Wrexham)
Goal: Bowen.
Line-up (3-4-3): Southall (c) – Hopkins, Nicholas, Maguire – Blackmore, Phillips, Williams (Pascoe 84′), Bowen – Saunders, Roberts (Jones 63′), Allen.
Wales were without some of their best names, and lose to a largely superior Netherlands. Yorath continued with his 3-4-3 despite the absence of Rush and Hughes, showing his confidence in the system. The three front men were expected to do most on their own, and Saunders and Allen did carve out a few chances that they should have buried if they were to get a result here. Horne and Ratcliffe were perhaps more notable absentees on the field than Rush and Hughes.

Qualifier 6: West Germany 2-1 Wales
15.11.1989, Müngersdorfer Stadion (Cologne)
Goal: Allen.
Line-up (3-4-3): Southall – Maguire, Melville (Pascoe 80′), Aizlewood – Phillips, Blackmore, Nicholas, Bowen (Horne 65′) – Saunders, Allen, Hughes.
Wales shock the eventual World Cup winners by taking the lead in this qualification decider, but are deservedly beaten in the end. Predictably a defensive strategy trying to break forward with their front trio, who especially in the first half created much problem to their mighty opponent. But they looked vulnerable to crosses all evening, and once again let in a set piece goal.

Conclusion

Final position: 4
Total record: 6 0 2 4 4-8 2
Home record: 3 0 2 1 3-4 2
Away record: 3 0 0 3 1-4 0

Player Statistics

Number of players used: 23
Number of players including unused substitutes: 32
Ever-presents (540 mins): 1 (Southall)
Leading goalscorer: Saunders, Bowen, Allen (all 1)
Yellow/red cards: 10/0

– overview

PlayerAppsXISubUnSubMinsGlsY/R
Southall66540
Nicholas66539
Blackmore665312/0
Saunders6514621 (1)1/0
Hughes554382/0
Aizlewood441360
Phillips44360
Rush443602/0
Williams442336
Horne4312952/0
Ratcliffe33270
Bowen5232051
Maguire321181
Allen22218011/0
Davies22180
Hall22148
Pascoe413115
Hopkins1190
Knill1190
Van Den Hauwe1190
Melville11180
Roberts11163
Jones1127
Dibble1
Hodges1
Holden1
Jackett3
Law 1
Norman3
Speed1
Thomas1
Willmott1

– game by game

NameHol (a)Fin (h)Frg (h)Fin (a)Hol (h)Frg (a)AppsMins
Aizlewood90R9090904360
AllenRR90902180
Blackmore9090819090906531
Bowen329990652+3205
Davies90902180
DibbleR
Hall90582148
HodgesR
HoldenR
Hopkins90190
Horne909090253+1295
Hughes 78909090905438
JackettRRR
Jones270+127
Knill90190
LawR
Maguire190902+1181
MelvilleR80180
Nicholas9090908990906539
NormanRRR
Pascoe9096101+3115
Phillips909090904360
Ratcliffe9090903270
Roberts63R163
Rush909090904360
Saunders1290909090905+1462
Southall9090909090906540
SpeedR
ThomasR
Van Den Hauwe90190
Williams90R818184R4336
WillmottR

– ratings

PosPlayerAverage ratingNumber of rated games
1Dean Saunders 7,205
2Neville Southall7,186
3Barry Horne 7,133
4Mark Aizlewood 7,054
5Kevin Ratcliffe 6,903
6Mark Hughes6,885
7Peter Nicholas6,866
8Clayton Blackmore6,736
9Geraint Williams6,704
10Dave Phillips6,654
11Mark Bowen 6,603
12Ian Rush 6,474
Explanation to table: Total number of rated games: 6. Players need to have been rated in half or more of the games in order to appear on the list.

Post-qualification

Friendly
28.03.1990 Republic of Ireland 1-0 Wales
Line-up: Southall – Hall, Maguire, Knill, Aizlewood, Phillips – Davies, Nicholas (c), Horne – Rush, Allen

Friendly
25.04.1990 Sweden 4-2 Wales
Goals: Saunders 2
Line-up: Southall (c) – Phillips, Maguire, Melville, Law, Bowen – Nicholas, Horne, Hodges – Saunders, Allen

Friendly
20.05.1990 Wales 1-0 Costa Rica
Goal: Saunders
Line-up: Southall (c) – Blackmore, Young (Melville 70), Aizlewood, Hopkins, Bodin – Nicholas, Horne, Hodges (Speed 76) – Saunders, Hughes (Allen 75)