Monday 24 April 2017

Steven Reid: We may regret not being more adventurous once Wales were down a man

Visitors were on the ropes in closing  minutes but we just couldn’t land the knockout blow

Gareth Bale. Photo: Reuters
Gareth Bale. Photo: Reuters
Steven Reid

Steven Reid

With 25 minutes of the game remaining, I'm thinking that a point will be a decent result given our lack of cutting edge in the final third but the sending-off changed the whole complexion of the game and left me thinking what might have been.

We could have taken one or two more risks and put a few more bodies in the box in certain situations in the closing stages.

With 15 minutes to go, Wales had a corner but we still didn't leave anyone up top to try and hit them on the counter-attack. It was little things like that that disappointed me the most and I hope we don't end up regretting not being a little braver.

We should have been flooding the box with players but instead, it was Longy trying to get on the end of lost causes. It was a frustrating night for him up top on his own.

There is no doubt in my mind that some of the lads will have been disappointed with the draw. Wales were on the ropes and we could have landed a knockout blow.

Suspended

We were still in which a chance and even though they will be missing the suspended Gareth Bale (right) and Neil Taylor for their game against Serbia, Wales left Dublin happy with a draw.

It was difficult to tell that Ireland were playing with a man extra for the last 22 minutes.

My thoughts go out to Seamus Coleman. You know it's a bad one when they don't show the replay on TV. I'd imagine it's a horrific leg break so you're talking about a really long time out which is a nightmare for both club and country. I don't think Taylor is that type of player but just at that juncture, there were a few challenges flying in.

I thought Bale was lucky to stay on the pitch following his kick into the chest of James McClean after he had left one on John O'Shea which was nasty. It was high. It was late.

You could see Wales really upped the intensity in the second half but they let it get the better of them and we really should have punished them for that.

There was a nervousness about both teams. It seemed to me that they were playing to not lose rather than taking it by the scruff and really pushing to try and win.

You could understand our reluctance to commit too many men forward. A draw was always going to be a good result and as much as Chris Coleman played it down, a victory would have been much more important to Wales.

I've been in those situations a lot of times down through the years and there is no doubt that it changes the psychology of the game. We are always at our best when we are under pressure and our backs are against the wall and we need to get a result. That certainly wasn't the case last night which was reflected in the performance. We've seen it plenty of times in the past, we really hurt teams when we take the game to the opposition with that aggression and willingness to get the ball back.

We missed James McCarthy's energy in the middle of the park and his ability to get box-to-box. David Meyler gets about but not to the same effect as James who is more dynamic. For me, our pressing game is less aggressive when James isn't in the team and even though it might not be the prettiest role on the pitch, it is one that you cannot understate the importance of.

That was lacking at times and, for the most part, we had to rely on James McClean to provide it. That's all well and good but he's one of our biggest attacking threats. We want him to be having an impact going forward, not backwards.

As always, McClean's work rate was relentless and he nicked it off Bale a couple of times in the first half which you could see was frustrating the Real Madrid man. That frustration came out early in the second half when Bale left one on John O'Shea but what followed was worse with Taylor's shocking challenge.

You could see throughout the game that Taylor was pushed very high up the pitch. That was partly down to Wales trying to utilise the space in between the midfield and the back four but it was also because they wanted to nullify Séamus's attacking threat.

Horrendous

There was no question that he went over the top in trying to do so and it has left Séamus with a horrendous looking injury.

We desperately miss Wes's creativity in these sort of cagey affairs and his absence was glaring last night, especially when James McCarthy pulled out of the game at the last minute.

The knock-on effect of that was that Longy was totally isolated up top on his own. We all know that Longy is most dangerous when balls are played over the top but we gave him very little to work off. Wales probably shaded the first-half possession and that was mainly because they had an extra body in there with Ledley, Ramsey, Allen and Bale. It was pretty much a four against our three which made it difficult for us. That said, they did very little with the ball. Allen controlled it well, while our lads looked a bit hurried on the ball.

The message at half-time from Martin would have been that if we upped our performance by 10pc, we could really get at Wales and the red card should have allowed us to do that but it didn't.

Bringing Aiden McGeady on for Meyler showed that we were really going for it at the end but the lack of cutting edge just wasn't there and in the end, a draw was probably a fair result.

Ireland remain unbeaten but we had a chance to retain top spot and even though it was against a good Wales team, we couldn't find the breakthrough.

I hope we don't come to regret that.

Irish Independent

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