Vitesse Arnhem U19’s 2 Wycombe Wanderers U18’s 1
After four days of training in Holland, Wycombe kickstarted their LFE Invitational Tournament with a tough fixture against Vitesse U19’s on the outskirts of Arnhem.
Wycombe, who have been hosted by Vitesse’s arch rivals NEC in Nijmegen, fielded a far younger side than the home side, with four 15-year-olds, seven 16-year-olds, five 17-year-olds plus only 18-year-old Lee Wright who was the same age as most of the Vitesse boys.
Wycombe included Under-16 players Nathan Mavila and Jordan Ibe in the starting XI with Alex Kenlock and reserve goalkeeper Ben Clarke on the bench.
Matt Ingram and Oliver Taylor, who both got experience with the first team last season, were in goal and up front respectively.
Vitesse showed their maturity with a blistering start to the game which forced Wanderers onto the back foot and caused great anxiety among the defence. Time and time again Vitesse’s front three wove patterns through the quartered shirts but could not find a finish – or found Matt Ingram in fine form in goal.
There was no surprise when the home side opened the scoring on 11 minutes, right-sided forward Joe Steenbergen poking the ball past Ingram from a pass by the dangerous Elmo Lieftink. Vitesse’s interplay around the box was dazzling at times and the Chairboys just had to stick it out. Ingram made three parried saves and other shots went wide or over.
But Wycombe then settled into what was a surprisingly feisty and competitive game for a friendly and got their defensive shape sorted out, even breaking out into attack several times but without creating a clear chance for the hard-working Oliver Taylor.
Central midfielder James Kelly and skipper Max Kretzschmar ran tirelessly but were up against it and were not unhappy to see the home side’s playmaker Brahim Dari go off inured before the break.
Vitesse made other substitutions which aided Wycombe’s cause but the second-half turnaround was gallant. After two early half-chances for the Dutch, the Chairboys took a hold of the game and began to dominate periods of play.
Wycombe levelled on 57 minutes with a delightful and incisive goal. Man of the Match Nathan Mavila broke forward at great pace from left-back, played a perfect one-two with Jordan Ibe, and slid the ball past keeper Martin van Barnveld without breaking stride. The English teenagers were understandably thrilled.
Dave Wates’ Wanderers were the better side now with Kretzschmar able to show his creative side in more advanced midfield positions and Lee Wright a positive outlet down the left wing.
Despite a series of attacks, Wycombe could not find a second goal and instead went behind again with nine minutes left when a goalmouth scramble was brought to an abrupt end when German trialist Cetin Ziegler rifled the ball past Ingram.
Wates brought on Jason Twum, Josh Laurent and Adam Kenlock but it was first substitute Max Herbert, who had entered proceedings with 15 minutes left, who almost grabbed a glorious second equaliser with a minute to go.
He followed his mazy run down the right into the box with a delightful curler, which van Barneveld clawed away from his top right hand corner. The resultant corner led to several more opportunities but these were snuffed out as the final whistle blew on an excellent game.