Torrid debut for battling Weston

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Rhys Weston, the teenage Arsenal defender, had the sort of Wales Under-21 debut he will sadly want to forget as his side crashed to a 4-1 defeat against Belarus in Borisov yesterday.

Rhys Weston, the teenage Arsenal defender, had the sort of Wales Under-21 debut he will sadly want to forget as his side crashed to a 4-1 defeat against Belarus in Borisov yesterday.

The youngster, who has chosen Wales rather than England - the country of his birth - for his international career, was booked and had a major part in the gift goal that put Belarus in command. However, Weston was the one player who did not deserve to be on the losing side as he was the only defender who showed any sort of quality and tackling ability against a powerful, fast home side in this opening European Under-21 Championship qualifier.

Stephen Evans was making his debut and Weston, who has a Welsh father, also made his first appearance at this level and put himself out of England reckoning for good.

It was a torrid start for Weston and his defence as Belarus applied the pressure throughout. David Walsh, the Wrexham goalkeeper, made a fine save from Alexander Hleb and also made brave interceptions to thwart Vladimir Karytska and Andrei Rasin.

Wales eventually went behind when Vitaly Kutuzov got behind the back four and was fouled by Walsh before stepping up to drive home the 25th-minute penalty.

Layton Maxwell and Ryan Green both had fierce shots for Wales before Simon Davies should have scored with a close-range header. But after this encouraging pressure Wales gifted Belarus a second on 44 minutes. Weston tried to nod the ball back to Walsh who had advanced too far. He raced back but Vitaly Ledenyov was there first to score.

Weston's booking for a tackle from behind was quickly followed by Belarus' third when Kutuzov broke away and set up the unmarked Vitaly Bulyga to drill past an exposed Walsh.

Wales brought on Robert Earnshaw and Stuart Roberts after the interval and it was Earnshaw who gave Wales some hope with a looping header after 85 minutes from Davies' cross.

But even then Belarus had the last word when Roberts was harshly ruled to have brought down Sergei Tsubul in the penalty area in the final minute and Kutuzov drove home his second penalty.

BELARUS UNDER-21: Zhanncu, Raunika, Amelyanchuk, Bahi, Yuriech, Kaluba, Karytska, Kutuzov, Rasin, Hleb, Ledenyov. Substitutes: Sulima, Apanasenka, Tsubul, Bulyga, Tarashchyk, Lashanrch, Panasiuk.

WALES UNDER-21: Walsh, Green, S Roberts, S Evans, Weston, D Williams, Slater, Jeanne, J Thomas, S Davies, Maxwell. Substitutes: Kendall, Day, E Jones, S Roberts, Earnshaw, Folland, Phillips.

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