Thursday 26 April 2018

5 things we learned from Wales and Northern Ireland's draw

Paddy McNair, front, and Sam Vokes, right, were under scrutiny in Cardiff
Paddy McNair, front, and Sam Vokes, right, were under scrutiny in Cardiff

Simon Church's late penalty prevented Wales from suffering a first loss to Northern Ireland in 36 years in their Euro 2016 warm-up in Cardiff.

The visitors had led through Craig Cathcart's strike on the hour before Church won a spot-kick off Gareth McAuley that he converted in the 90th minute.

Here, Press Association Sport details five things we learned from the 1-1 draw.

1. Wales missed Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey

Obviously any team on the planet would miss the world's most expensive player and another of the quality of Ramsey, and Wales looked far less threatening without those two and even makeshift forward Hal Robson-Kanu. However, in 20-year-old winger George Williams, they do have a player whose future is bright.

2. Coleman needs to play to Sam Vokes' strengths

It was an admission that the Wales manager made himself after the game. Wales need to deliver more crosses for Vokes if they want to get the best out of a man who has scored 10 times in 14 games for club side Burnley. Vokes could replace Robson-Kanu in France this summer, but they need to work out how to utilise him in these friendlies.

3. Three at the back may be Northern Ireland's future

Michael O'Neill conceded there were positives and negatives to the formation he decided to start with in the Welsh capital. Jonny Evans, Gareth McAuley and Cathcart were all impressive on the night and you would expect their manager to continue to use them in the forthcoming friendlies as he tries to accommodate all of the trio.

4. Paddy McNair can play in midfield

In the few appearances he has made for club side Manchester United, McNair has been chosen in a defensive role, but he was deployed in midfield by O'Neill. The 20-year-old was an energetic presence, read the game well and had a hand in his country's goal. Louis van Gaal would be wise to watch the video of his player's performance.

5. Kyle Lafferty showed some rust

Having played a total of 45 minutes for Norwich all season, it was no surprise that Lafferty was a little off the pace. That was epitomised by a second-half attempt he hit tamely at goalkeeper Danny Ward. O'Neill will hope the man who scored seven times in qualifying can get back up to speed on loan at Birmingham.

Press Association

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