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Wales vs Northern Ireland. International Match.

Cardiff City Stadium.

Wales 1

  • S Church (89th minute pen)

Northern Ireland 1

  • C Cathcart (60th minute)

Wales 1-1 Northern Ireland: Simon Church earns draw with late penalty

Simon Church of Wales celebrates after scoring a late penalty to level the scores at 1-1 during the international friendly match with Northern Ireland
Image: Simon Church of Wales celebrates after scoring a late penalty to level the scores against Northern Ireland

Wales and Northern Ireland kicked their preparations for Euro 2016 off with a 1-1 draw at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Craig Cathcart fired home on the hour mark to put Michael O'Neill's side ahead against a country they had not beaten since 1980.

However, having been fouled by Gareth McAuley in the area, substitute Simon Church dusted himself down to stroke the ball home in the final minute of the game.

With Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey missing, Wales failed to shine in a goalless first half. Sam Vokes and James Chester headed corners over while Northern Ireland debutant Conor Washington fired one of the visitors' few chances off target.

Wales were clearly missing their two star attractions but George Williams was looking to make the most of his opportunity and, after drifting to the left, his effort might have been creeping in had Cathcart not headed it over.

Washington's pace and movement was an encouraging sign for the visitors, though he was let down by his end product when firing well over from just outside the box.

Ashley Williams of Wales heads the ball clear under pressure from Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair
Image: Ashley Williams of Wales heads the ball clear under pressure from Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair

Both sides made changes at the break - Chris Coleman calling on Liverpool goalkeeper Danny Ward for his first cap while Jamie Ward was introduced by O'Neill for Washington.

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Andrew Crofts came into a Welsh midfield but allowed Davis time to try and pick out Jamie Ward, with Adam Matthews' covering tackle only diverting the ball to Lafferty, whose weak effort was palmed away by Danny Ward.

However, the debutant would be beaten on the hour mark by a terrific finish from one of Northern Ireland's centre-backs.

Craig Cathcart of Northern Ireland holds off  David Cotterill of Wales during the international friendly
Image: Craig Cathcart of Northern Ireland holds off David Cotterill of Wales during the international friendly

Oliver Norwood's short corner was sent into the box by McNair and, although James Chester headed that cross away, Davis poked the ball to Cathcart, whose shot on the turn crashed into the net.

Coleman immediately looked to his bench again - Lloyd Isgrove another to make his first Wales appearance - but Northern Ireland's back line was standing firm. Joe Allen was introduced to cheers as the most high-profile figure in the Wales squad without Bale and Ramsey.

Isgrove looked to make a perfect first impression at the back post but was foiled by McLaughlin's sliding intervention. Lafferty headed wide from an offside position in the final act of his night before he was replaced with 17 minutes to go.

Simon Church, Wales' sixth substitute, headed wide in the closing stages, though the offside flag was raised from Vokes' initial shot.

Yet Church would win a late penalty after drawing McAuley into a foul, and he smashed the spot-kick into the corner to salvage a draw.

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