Macedonia defeat cruel on Wales, says former striker Iwan Roberts

Sometimes football can be a very cruel mistress, and Wales' 2-1 defeat to Macedonia tonight was an ideal example of just how brutal it can be.

At the final whistle I felt for the Welsh boys walking off the field at at the Phillip II Arena in Skopje. After a disappointing performance in the 0-0 draw last month against the Republic Of Ireland, where we didn't manage a single effort on goal, this was by far a much improved performance by Chris Coleman's men.

As the game ran away, I was crying out for the world's most expensive footballer to take the stage.

Coleman had decided to leave Real Madrid's £85.3m signing Gareth Bale on the bench, which I agreed with. But surely he could have put Bale on as they chased the game in the final minutes? I was amazed he didn't.

I thought both teams started very quickly, pressing high up the pitch, forcing both defences to give away possession cheaply. But once the game settled down I thought the passing and the movement of Aaron Ramsey, Jonathan Williams and Craig Bellamy gave Wales the upper hand in a close first half.

Craig Bellamy

Wales' Craig Bellamy cuts a dejected figure at the end of the game in Skopje

Those three players were outstanding and caused problems whenever they reached the opposition's final third.

Wales were unlucky to go a goal behind when Ivan Trickovski fired past a helpless Boaz Myhill.

Manager Chris Coleman would have wanted a positive reaction from his players and that's exactly what he got.

Aaron Ramsey, who has been by far Arsenal's best player at the beginning of this new season, earned and scored the penalty which took Wales in level at the half, at the very least what they deserved.

In the second half, the tempo of the game was fantastic with both teams counter-attacking quickly.

But all too often, the final pass from a Welsh point of view was disappointing. I was sad to see young Jonathan Williams forced off with a nasty ankle injury after about 20 minutes of the second period, and I just hope he can recover for the game at Cardiff on Tuesday night against Serbia.

If the first Macedonian goal was a touch fortuitous. the second was sloppy from a Welsh point of view.

David Vaughan, who had been solid all game was at fault. He sloppily lost possession half way in his own half and five seconds later substitute Aleksandar Trajkovski fired low to Myhill's right.

There was nothing the keeper could do, but he'll be disappointed there was no pressure put on Trajkovski as he had so much time to pick his corner.

Fifa 2014 World Cup Qualifying Group A

Played Won Points

Belgium

8

7

22

Croatia

8

5

17

Serbia

8

2

8

Macedonia

7

2

7

Wales

7

2

6

Scotland

8

1

5

I have to say I felt for the boys walking off at the final whistle as they deserved more from a very positive performance.

And so to Tuesday night's game against a side that we really do owe one to.

After the 6-1 hammering we received in Serbia in the second game of the group a yerar ago, I'm sure the lads will be chomping at the bit to get their revenge.

It won't be easy, as Serbia are a strong physical side. But if we show the same work ethic desire and improve that final ball into the penalty box I'm convinced we can win the game and keep alive our hope of finishing third in Group A.

It's a massive blow that our captain Ashley Williams will be missing from the heart of defence through suspension. That will be a very big hole to fill.

Does Chris Coleman play Danny Gabbidon, or does he make an awkward call to James Collins after the manager left the West Ham player out of his initial squad?

That's one big decision the manager gets paid to make. Another one is does he start Bale?

If he doesn't start then I hope he has a part to play because as we all know, we are a different side with Gareth in it.