Football: Macclesfield loan deal beckons for Williams

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The Independent Online
IT SEEMS that Anthony Williams, fresh from producing two commanding performances for the Welsh Under-21s, will finally be getting his chance to play regular first-team football.

The young Blackburn goalkeeper has rescued Wales in their last two Under- 21 internationals, both of which were drawn. He saved two penalties in last Friday's 2-2 draw in Denmark - for the second game in a row - and then kept an impressive clean sheet in the 0-0 draw with Belarus in Barry on Tuesday.

Nonetheless, Williams has been finding it hard going in the struggle for a first-team place at Ewood Park, where Tim Flowers, Alan Fettis and John Filan are all ahead of him in the pecking order.

Now Williams could be playing in the Second Division on Saturday for Macclesfield at Wycombe. Sammy McIlroy, the Cheshire side's manager, has been alerted to Williams' potential and is trying to set up a loan deal that would delight the boy from Maesteg.

Williams made brilliant saves in each half at Jenner Park on Tuesday to secure a point in a match that Wales dominated, and the draw at Barry gave Tom Walley, the Welsh Under-21 manager, just as much satisfaction.

"This is a very young side, plenty of lads only 18, and they have gained lots of good experience over these past few days," Walley said. "They were confident, they played the ball around well but we lacked that final cutting edge.

"What they did discover is that you cannot keep giving the ball away at this level, because teams will punish you severely."

Walley believes his charges witnessed a carbon copy of the problems that he thought would be awaiting the full international side in their European Championship encounter against Belarus at Ninian Park last night.

"I would expect the senior side to be confronted with very much the same approach," Walley said. "Belarus sat back, invited us to attack them and then hit us on the break. They got almost everyone behind the ball most of the time and were intent on just stopping us.

"They did it very well and I don't think their seniors will play much differently. It will be a tough, hard game for Wales, with Belarus intent on stifling the life out of the game."