As well as an SSE Women’s FA Cup fixture between TNS Ladies and Chichester City Ladies, Park Hall also played host to an international fixture on Sunday afternoon. Sam Wood covered the game, as it featured one of our own.
The English Independent School’s boys under-18s team took on the Welsh Schools boys under-18s, with The New Saints’ Ben Clark starting in midfield for the former.
Wearing the number 17 shirt – the same digits he wore as he represented England once more at St. George’s Park last December – Clark was tasked with occupying the defensive midfield role, in front of the England back five.
It was England who started the brightest, getting themselves in front after just five minutes, when the number 7 fired them into an early lead.
Once in front, the hosts started to take a firm grip of the game. Clark got back well on 23 minutes to block an effort that was headed for goal.
— The New Saints FC (@tnsfc) February 4, 2018
Just one minute later he showed off terrific skill to drag the ball past his marker, demonstrating his ability to adapt to the midfield role.
After 33 minutes Ben caused trouble for the Welsh defence with an excellent cross-field ball but unfortunately for him, the winger, his target, overhit the touch and the chance come to nothing.
Four minutes before half-time, Ben’s team has doubled their lead. Centre-back number 5 benefited for a ball that dropped into his path and he got enough onto it to turn the ball home.
A half-time tactical switch saw Clark move from the defensive midfield role he was occupying, to right-back in a newly shaped four.
He was involved almost instantly as Wales had the chance to get back into the game. Ben got back onto the goal line and along with number 5, was able to stop the ball finding the back of the net.
— TNS Academy (@TnsAcademy) February 4, 2018
Wales offered little of note down the left-hand flank during the second-half, therefore Ben’s role was more limited, but he did go into the book on 64 minutes after making a late challenge.
England extended their lead further on 72 minutes, when number 11 found the bottom corner of the Welsh goal. The score remained that way until stoppage time.
Ben’s day came to an end on 77 minutes when he was substituted, but it was another impressive display for the versatile TNS man.
The fourth and final goal from England came in the 91st minute when they took advantage of a goalkeeping mistake to wrap the game up.
First-team manager Scott Ruscoe was watching the match from the balcony and he will certainly have been impressed with what he saw from Ben Clark, as he looks to push on and break into the first-team line-up.