World Cup clock: Moore grabs headlines as Mepham also impresses

CHRIS Mepham and Kieffer Moore started their World Cup careers with a solid point against USA for Wales but how did the Cherries duo fare?

Chosen from the off, Mepham played in a back three with Tottenham defenders Ben Davies and Joe Rodon, who is currently on loan at Stade Rennais from his parent club.

Club-mate Moore remained on the bench until the restart and Wales badly needed something else after a bulging first 45.

Wales manager Rob Page went on to admit that removing Kieffer Moore from the starting line-up was a tactical misstep, given Cymru’s complete lack of ability to sidestep the American press and get the ball onto the pitch.

CONTINUE READING: Page admits mistakes in not starting Moore in Worlds opener in Wales

Thanks to much-improved team performance, Moore’s influence has been heralded by many pundits and fans alike, while his colleague Cherry Mepham has slipped somewhat under the radar.

With the Welsh midfield ineffective, centre-back Mepham had to work hard both in and out of possession and the Welsh defense were tasked with recycling the ball in addition to their usual defensive duties.

Despite the extra strain, the 25-year-old was almost exemplary, the only blot on his record being a yellow card for a stupid and unnecessary move on Christian Pulisic that went nowhere.

Although the second half was a very different affair from the first, Mepham and the Welsh defense had to watch out for possible counter-attacks.

Overall, he was one of the few Welshmen to emerge from the first 45 minutes on credit, justifying his selection in Page’s starting XI.

He led his team in tackles won, winning three of his four attempted tackles and also scoring for most tackles in the game with American skipper Tyler Adams (also three successful tackles from four attempts).

Only USA’s Walker Zimmerman cleared more than Mepham’s five (six total), while the former Brentford man was big in the air, winning two of his three aerial duels.

So hungry for possession, Wales’ most frequent ball carriers were their defenders, with only Davies having more touches than Mepham (69 v 64).

He also sent the ball 205 yards on 45 passes, the second most for the Welsh team.

If Davies had directed his header to either side of Matt Turner’s glove Wales could have equalized sooner and Mepham would have had an assist, his header knocking off his fellow centre-back to a gold-edged chance.

As mentioned above, the introduction of Moore changed the game in Wales’ favour.

After the game, Wales manager Page spoke about how he set Wales up to take advantage of the American press by playing through the middle. However, that completely backfired as Wales’ midfield was separated from the rest of the team.

That led to hopeful long balls over the top for Dan James and Gareth Bale to chase – a tactic more than appropriate to Moore’s physicality and physique.

However, it wasn’t just Moore’s introduction that swayed the game towards Wales. There was a complete change in mentality after the break and Wales were bolder on the ball.

While relying on Moore as a central point, the midfield brought into play by his hold-up play, Aaron Ramsey and former Cherry Harry Wilson eventually propelled forward with the ball, pushing the USA back into their own half .

Moore could have scored himself, flashing a header just over the bar from a corner, but his performance does more than justify his appearance against Iran on Friday.

Wales are second in Group B, with England top of the table after a 6-2 win over Iran. The two old opponents meet in the final game of the group stage on Tuesday 22 November.



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