Honours even in Cardiff thanks to Colwill’s strike

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Wales and the Czech Republic fought out an entertaining game in Cardiff which ended 1-1 following a decent display from the home side.

Wales boss Robert Page made changes from last week’s epic clash with Austria yet still included enough names to excite the modest crowd of 12,912.

Nottingham Forest star man Brennan Johnson started up front while exciting Cardiff City youngster Rubin Colwill also made the starting line-up. Talisman Gareth Bale sat on the bench.

The Czech Republic provided the opposition for this specially arranged game to raise funds for the Ukrainian crisis, with the Football Association of Wales donating profits from the game to the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. Bucket collections also took place in and around the ground.

Wales were led out by keeper Wayne Hennessy, who was earning his 100th cap, a remarkable achievement for a faithful servant who has found first team action at club level hard to come by in recent years. Latest fans anthem “Yma o Hyd” greeted both teams on their arrival on the field.

It was Johnson who brought the first flush of excitement with a surging run into the heart of the visiting defence after just six minutes. His whipped cross failed to find Rabbi Matondo in not quite the position the attack deserved.

Lokomotiv Moscow striker Jan Kuchta almost capitalised on a slip at the heart of the Welsh defence but stubborn resistance from Chris Mepham blocked the shot. Hennessey produced a solid save to keep out a header from the same striker as this friendly match showed flashes of competitiveness.

Matondo brought visiting keeper Jindřich Staněk into action as we neared half an hour but we had really seen little of Wales as an attacking force.

Wales fell behind to a crisp volley from skipper Tomáš Souček but responded in fine fashion as Colwill put away a simple chance created by Johnson. The first international goal for the Cardiff City youngster cancelled out a fine strike by the West Ham midfielder, who wore the skipper’s armband for the visitors.

Michael Sadilek almost replicated Bale’s strike recent against Austria but his fine free kick whizzed over.

A game which had started quietly had developed into an entertaining fixture as Cardiff’s Will Vaulks hit the post with an acrobatic effort.

With the scores level at the break, both sides began the second half in enterprising fashion. A strike against the Welsh post was followed by a trademark long throw from Vaulks that caused a degree of commotion but no real danger. Johnson and Mepham also went close as the home side stepped up the pace. Another throw from Vaulks saw the dangerous Johnson test Staněk.

The inevitable changes saw Hennessey leave the field to a standing ovation while Ethan Ampadu and Joe Rodon replaced Chris Gunter and Will Vaulks.

Johnson continued his eye-catching display, testing the visitors time and time again with his speed and eye for a chance. Matondo was replaced by the evergreen Jonny Williams as Page continued the changes. Matondo had done enough to catch the eye though.

Replacement keeper Adam Davies had to clutch a chance from Soucěk before the crowd lifted on 80 minutes as Bale entered the fray alongside Cardiff City’s Mark Harris. Johnson and Colwill made way.

Remarkably Bale had been linked with a move to Cardiff City in the Welsh media ahead of any further World Cup adventures which lie ahead for Wales. The Real Madrid man brought the crowd to their feet with shots which tested the visiting keeper as the game neared its conclusion.

The evening had been enjoyed by the home crowd with Johnson and Matondo catching the eye. Page remains undefeated at the Cardiff City Stadium. Vital funds had also been raised to support the Ukrainian crisis plus, of course, that century of caps for Hennessy.

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