Northern Ireland were denied a first away friendly win in almost a decade as Wales scored a late penalty to earn a 1-1 draw in their Euro 2016 warm-up. An injury-hit Wales edged a goalless first half as David Cotterill had a free-kick saved by Michael McGovern. Northern Ireland improved after the break and led as Craig Cathcart struck with a low shot on the turn. The visitors defended diligently but were undone when Gareth McAuley fouled Simon Church, who converted.
Had Northern Ireland held on for victory, it would have been their first in a friendly on the road since beating Finland in August 2006. For a Wales side without Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, Church’s equaliser was reward for a willing – but somewhat blunt – performance which exposed their lack of strength in depth at times. Both managers had earmarked this fixture as an opportunity for fringe players to further their case for inclusion in their respective Euro 2016 squads.
Wales’ George Williams sparkled in his audition, as the Fulham winger – currently on loan at Gillingham – ran at opposition defenders with menace and trickery. Queens Park Rangers striker Conor Washington made his debut for Northern Ireland but struggled to make an impression as the visitors sat back content to defend. It was understandable that Michael O’Neill’s side approached the game in pragmatic fashion – because they came to Cardiff with a dismal away friendly record.
O’Neill had never won a friendly on the road during his five-year reign, while the team’s run of just one goal in 17 away friendlies stretched back nine-and-a-half years. They did not look like improving that record in a first half in which they failed to register a shot on target but they were more of a threat in the second. Kyle Lafferty had a shot saved by debutant goalkeeper Danny Ward and, when Wales failed to clear a corner after an hour, Cathcart was on hand to swivel and score with a powerful effort.
Curated from Wales 1-1 Northern Ireland – BBC Sport