Sheffield Wednesday: Bannan stars in Scotland friendly win

Scotland's Darren Fletcher and Ikechi Anya after the final whistle
Scotland's Darren Fletcher and Ikechi Anya after the final whistle
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Sheffield Wednesday’s Barry Bannan got half an hour under his belt for Scotland in last night’s 1-0 friendly win over Czech Republic.

And he briefly locked horns with Wednesday teammate Daniel Pudil who featured as a 79th minute substitute for the home side.

Ikechi Anya’s first half strike earned Scotland victory at the Generali Arena in Prague.

The home side had hit the frame of the goal before the Watford winger raced on to a Ross McCormack pass in the 10th minute to drive low past keeper Tomas Koubek.

The Czechs fought back fiercely and Scotland keeper Allan McGregor was peppered with attempts on goal but managed to keep the home side at bay with a string of saves in the first half with his defence helping out after the break to keep the home side out.

It was a mostly backs-to-the-wall performance by Gordon Strachan’s side but as a first step to rebuilding for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers which begin later in the year, it will be good enough for the national team boss and the Tartan Army.

Meanwhile, Simon Church saved Wales from a miserable Euro 2016 send-off in front of their own fans as Michael O’Neill was denied his first friendly win as Northern Ireland manager.

Northern Ireland had appeared to be on their way to a first victory over Wales since 1980 when Craig Cathcart fired the visitors ahead on a wet and windy night at the Cardiff City Stadium.

But Church, who had only been on the pitch 13 minutes, won a last minute penalty when he was tripped by Gareth McAuley and he converted emphatically from the spot to secure a 1-1 draw.

Wales manager Chris Coleman had promised a feisty British derby but crunching tackles and chances were at a premium until Cathcart pounced on the hour mark.

The hosts were caught napping by a short corner routine with Paddy McNair allowed to cross into the penalty area. Wales failed to clear and Cathcart reacted quickest to the loose ball by driving through a crowded box for his second international goal.

For Northern Ireland, the goal looked like providing useful momentum towards Euro 2016, although they will take comfort from the fact that they have matched the record nine-game unbeaten run enjoyed by Billy Bingham’s side 30 years ago.

Wales, by contrast, will take little from the contest apart from the knowledge that they simple do not carry the same menace without their talisman Gareth Bale.