After England's expected victory over the Sammarinese on Thursday, it was the turn of the Welsh to play hosts to the far more formidable looking Bosnians on Friday evening in their Euro 2016 qualifier, but despite their best efforts the match ended rather disappointingly as a scoreless draw.
A spate of injuries had robbed the Welsh of a number of their more prominent players ahead of the game, in particular in midfield where Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal and Liverpool's Joe Allen were absentees. As ever, they had the backing of a vocal crowd, the official figure of 30,741 packed into Cardiff City's ground representing a record attendance at the venue for an international.
Much (as ever these days) seemed to ride on the shoulders of their one truly world class starter, Real Madrid's Gareth Bale. This time, however, he was unable to provide the spark to breakdown a solid Bosnia- Hercegovina side who sported one or two stars of their own, including Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko and Roma's Miralem Pjanic in a quality midfield. Bale's limited impact may have been at least partly down to the man marking role of Everton's Muhamed Besic. At least the draw keeps Wales well in the mix in the group as they currently lead Group B on four points after an unbeaten start.
Wales had beaten Andorra in their first match in qualifying so went into the match in good spirits, but could not fashion much in terms of clear chances in a dour first half. In truth, neither side showed much in the way of goalscoring intent until the second half, which was a far more lively affair.
The home side were thankful to their keeper on the night, Crystal Palace's Wayne Hennessey, for several high class saves in the second period that kept them in the game, especially from Haris Medunjanin and Dzeko. He had to watch and admire as a Pjanic free-kick arced just wide of the post though.
Slightly against the run of play Wales almost scored themselves, when Ashley Williams could not keep his header from a Bale free-kick on target.
Both sides had good chances to clinch the win late on, with Hennessey again earning the plaudits by stopping another Pjanic free-kick, and his opposite number Asmir Begovic denying Bale's powerful shot.
Wales face Cyprus at Cardiff on Monday and one feels that they need to take the three points then, if they are to keep themselves in the shake up for the automatic qualifying places in the group, as they seek a first major finals' place since the 1958 World Cup finals in Sweden. They had the legendary John Charles in their ranks in those days and will hope that Bale can provide more folklore as they seek Euro 2016 qualification with this new 'golden' generation of players. Bale already has fourteen international goals to his name (ten of those coming in his last eleven matches for his country), but one feels he will need to make significant inroads towards Ian Rush's record of 28 if his country are to achieve their aims. #Football