Wales Now Need Armenia Favour

Rob Page held something precious in his own hands before the weekend – the chance of Euro 2024 qualification.

But that prospect is now in the hands of others – namely Armenia – after a 1-1 draw for Wales in their penultimate qualifier against the Armenians in Yerevan.

Beating Turkey at the Cardiff City Stadium on its own on Tuesday night is now not enough for Wales. They also have to hope that Armenia can get at least a draw away in Croatia, otherwise automatic qualification will be denied.

Wales and Nottingham Forest wing-back Neco Williams has admitted the unfancied Armenians have had much the better of two painful meetings with Wales in qualifiers.

The draw on Saturday was not enough to make amends for the 4-2 home defeat back in June, leaving Wales now 9-1 outsiders to gain automatic entry to Germany next summer.

“As soon as the lads came in after the game you could feel that frustration,” said Williams.

“No-one talked and it felt like a loss. But we take a point from it and all we can do now is focus on our last game against Turkey.

“If we get the three points there you never know what’s going to happen.”

From being in control of their own destiny, Page and his team now need a favour from their nemesis opponents when the Armenians go to Zagreb.

They may have only picked up four points from their five games not involving Wales, but Williams reckons Armenia are capable of providing that vital helping hand.

“Armenia are a top team. They have got some very good players and, hopefully, they can do a job on Croatia like they did against us,” added Williams.

“We still have a chance because you never know what’s going to happen.

“It’s not in our hands and we have got to wait for the other results. There’s a lot of luck in football, and hopefully it will be on our side.”

If Wales – now third in Group D – fail to overhaul Croatia in the final round of matches then they will pour their focus into the play-offs.

Their back door entry route will come in March, the same two-game journey they used to get to last year’s World Cup finals in Qatar when they overcame Austria and Ukraine.

This time, their most likely opponents are two from Finland, Iceland, Poland and Ukraine again.

Williams added: “We did it for the World Cup and, if it does happen, we’ve still got a chance.”

With the international break meaning there was no action in the Championship for either Cardiff City or Swansea City, the attention at club level switched to Wrexham and Newport County.

It must have weighed heavily on Wrexham who suffered their first defeat in 11 matches as they lost 2-0 away to Accrington Stanley – a defeat that dropped them out of the automatic promotion places in League Two.

Manager Phil Parkinson said: “They were physical all over the pitch and we never got into our rhythm in that second period.”

There was a similar fate – by the same scoreline – for Newport, who lost at Mansfield Town.

County, who slipped to 20th in the table, got what they deserved according to manager Graham Coughlan.

“The better team won,” he said.

“I don’t think we’ve any arguments with that. We weren’t very good – we were poor with the ball and we didn’t ask enough questions.”

Swansea City Women attracted a club record crowd of 3,859 to the Swansea.Com Stadium for a 2-1 victory over Wrexham in the Adran Premier.

The previous highest attendance for the Swans had been 1,426.

There was another Welsh record in London as Sophie Ingle joked that her appearance landmark in women’s football gave away her age as the Wales captain made history.

Ingle played her 184th Women’s Super League match – setting a new mark – as her Chelsea team thrashed Liverpool 5-1 as Lauren James scored a hat-trick.

Ingle set up James for the first of her three goals before the 32-year-old Wales midfielder said: “It’s a nice record to get to.

“I’ve been in this league for many years now – and I suppose it shows my age as well!

“It’s an honour for me to reach this, especially at a club like Chelsea. I’ve been in the league for many years, and it is getting harder and harder every year. But it’s a nice achievement for myself.”