Collins wins fifth Irish cap as Norrington-Davies and Morrell start in Wales win

Rhys Norrington-Davies won his second cap for Wales last nightRhys Norrington-Davies won his second cap for Wales last night
Rhys Norrington-Davies won his second cap for Wales last night
Town trio all feature in same international

Luton striker James Collins won his first Republic of Ireland cap for over a year during the 1-0 Nations League defeat to a Wales side containing Town team-mates Rhys Norrington-Davies and Joe Morrell in Cardiff last night.

The 29-year-old forward had been left on the bench once more, despite the Irish going five games without a goal, but did come on for the final 15 minutes with his side trailing to David Brooks' 66th minute strike.

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He went on to have three of the four attempts on target that his side managed on the evening, but they couldn't hit back, falling to a third successive defeat.

It was the first time since October 17, 1990 that three Luton players have featured on opposing sides in an international match, as then, Iain Dowie and Kingsley Black were in a Northern Ireland team facing Denmark, who had Lars Elstrup on for the last 20 minutes.

The Welsh handed starts to Morrell and Norrington-Davies, winning their 11th and second caps respectively, as Tom Lockyer remained on the bench, but there was little action of note in the first period, Robbie Brady sending a shot wide, plus Gareth Bale's dipping free kick brushing the bar.

James McClean saw his low shot saved by home keeper Danny Ward, before Morrell was booked for appearing to kick out at Jayson Molumby.

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Assistant coach Robert Page - in temporary charge with Ryan Giggs absent - replaced Norrington-Davies on the hour mark with striker Kieffer Moore.

It was the hosts who eventually came to life midway through the second half, Brooks nodding in from close range after Bale's looping header dropped perfectly for him.

Brooks was denied a second by an outstanding save by Darren Randolph before Bale and Moore missed further chances for the hosts.

Ireland had midfielder Jeff Hendrick sent off in added time for bringing down Tyler Roberts as he appeared to have a clear run on goal.

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Wales assistant Page said: "I think we gave the ball away cheaply in the first half. It was very frustrating and I said that to the players at half-time.

"We caused ourselves more problems than Ireland if I'm being honest.

"We invited pressure into our box and we gave cheap free-kicks away. That disappointed us a little bit.

"We decided to change the shape late on and it worked for us. We'll take the clean sheet, the three points and look forward to a big game on Wednesday.

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"We've always had a plan B for if things aren't quite going your way and that was it again today."

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny added: "I have no doubts I will be a success, absolutely no doubts.

"We have a clear vision of what we want. Between this camp and the previous camp, we have been in quite unprecedented circumstances, in modern times anyway.

"Nevertheless, the players have come out against a good Wales team today and put in a good performance overall.

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"We didn't create a load of chances, but you're not going to against a good Wales team.

"We probably had the better chances up to the last five minutes, when they had two on the break."

Wales host Finland in Cardiff on Wednesday.

A draw would be enough for Wales to win the group and secure promotion to the top tier of the Nations League.

The Irish remain third and a point in front of bottom side Bulgaria, who they host in Dublin on Wednesday in a match which will decide who is relegated to the third tier.

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