Harry Wilson misses from spot as Wales are held in Finland friendly
In the summer, it was Gareth Bale who fluffed his lines from the penalty spot without any significant consequences and on Wednesday it was Harry Wilson who failed to beat the goalkeeper from 12 yards as Wales played out a friendly stalemate in Finland.
An experimental Wales side came closest to finding a late winner and Bale came on with eight minutes left to edge closer to a century of caps, winning No 97 in Helsinki.
Only Wilson and Jonny Williams in a youthful starting lineup had previously scored for Wales so when the former saw his poor first-half penalty comfortably saved by the Finland debutant, Carljohan Eriksson, the prospect of a goal-fest seemed even more unlikely.
Equally the Norwich striker Teemu Pukki, behind only Jari Litmanen in Finland’s all-time scoring charts, was left on the bench in readiness for World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and France.
Matt Smith, the Manchester City midfielder on loan at Hull, was bright and sent a teasing ball across the six-yard box late on but no one in a red shirt could reach it.
Wales’s preparations for qualifiers against Belarus and Estonia have been far from ideal, with 13 players unavailable owing to visa problems, coronavirus protocols, transfers, suspension and injury. Aaron Ramsey pulled out of the squad hours after it was named due to a thigh problem. Joe Allen was rested with Sunday’s trip to Kazan in mind and Daniel James was left out after travelling to Helsinki separately after his deadline-day move to Leeds.
“DJ had a stressful couple of days trying to sort things out with the clubs and his move,” said Robert Page, the Wales interim manager. “I didn’t want to throw him into that game.”
The goalkeeper, Danny Ward, was the only member of the Wales starting XI that began their last-16 defeat to Denmark in June but Wayne Hennessey replaced him at the interval, another to reach his 97th cap. The Tottenham defender Ben Davies also entered at the break, while the Cardiff teenager Rubin Colwill and Josh Sheehan of Bolton followed, the latter in place of Williams, who joined Swindon of League Two last month.
The penalty stemmed from Brennan Johnson, fresh from scoring his first goal for boyhood club Nottingham Forest against rivals Derby last Saturday, driving into the box on his first Wales start. Johnson bounced in off the right flank, slowed the defender Niko Hämäläinen down and then accelerated towards the byline, where the full-back caught the winger.
Wilson stepped up from 12 yards but his spot-kick was tame, Eriksson diving to his right to gather.
“There were some big performances,” Page said. “There were a lot of positives, a clean sheet and, more importantly, no injuries.”