Wales manager Gary Speed rues Rob Earnshaw's Wembley miss

Wales striker Robert Earnshaw
Wales striker Robert Earnshaw turns away in disbelief after missing an open goal

Wales manager Gary Speed sympathised with Robert Earnshaw after the substitute wasted a golden opportunity to claim a draw against England.

Cardiff City striker Earnshaw missed an open goal from five yards 13 minutes from time in the Euro 2012 qualifier.

"He's been great for Wales and will be for years to come. He's a fantastic lad. I'm sorry it had to happen," said Speed after the 1-0 defeat at Wembley.

"It's one of those things and we won't dwell too much on that."

Speed and the rest of the Wales bench rose in celebration as the ball fell for Earnshaw but joy quickly turned to disbelief as they watched it fly over the bar.

"It was unfortunate," Speed added.

"The pressure we were putting on England meant we were going to get a chance and if you could have it fall to anyone it would have been Earnie."

Instead of focusing on what might have been, Speed was keen to emphasise the positives as his young side held their own against the Group G leaders, who need a point to qualify for the finals.

The signs were ominous as England finally broke through an organised Wales defence when Ashley Young scored from Stewart Downing's low cross 10 minute before half-time.

But the visitors, bottom of the group with only three points, weathered a brief storm and Speed insisted his side were on top after the break.

"I've very, very proud of the players," said Speed, who has now lost six of his seven games in charge.

"We knew what to expect from England, we knew we were going to come under pressure at times - they are a top-four team in the world. We knew the game would open up in the second half a bit.

"The way we passed the ball in the second half, how comfortable we were on the ball and the way we took the game to England and the chances we created - I thought we were the better team in the second half.

"So from that I take a great deal of positivity and I'm very, very proud."

Earnshaw's glaring miss was Wales' only clear opening but Speed claimed a poor decision from the assistant referee denied Gareth Bale a sight of goal in the first half.

"I thought straight away he was onside," Speed said. "The run and the ball from Aaron [Ramsey], I don't think it was that close.

"That's disappointing because he was one on one with [England goalkeeper] Joe Hart."

Top Stories