02/02/1929 Wales 2 – 2 Wrexham Jackie Mahood, Andy McCluggage pen
Elisha Scott, Andy McCluggage, Billy McCandless, Joe Miller, Jimmy Elwood, Alex Steele, Jimmy Chambers, Dick Rowley, Joe Bambrick, Lawrie Cumming, Jackie Mahood
During this period Ireland were no longer the whipping boys of the yearly British Home International Championship series and gave a good account of themselves in most matches, pulling off some credible results in the process. For example, a year previously Ireland had defeated Scotland 1-0 in Glasgow while in 1927 they had defeated England 2-0 in Belfast. Nearly a year to the day in the future, Ireland would record their biggest ever international win when they would defeat Wales 7-0 in Belfast. Six of the goals that day would come from ‘head, heal or toe… slip it to Joe [Bambrick]’ who also featured in this game in 1929.
The Glasgow Herald started their match report quite bluntly complaining that “the game did not reach international standard, neither side settling down to effective combined work. The Irishmen were certainly more accomplished in the fine arts of football, but the characteristic grit of the Welshmen earned them an honourable draw.”
Lawrie Cumming, Dick Rowley and Joe Millar were making their international debuts for Ireland.
It was a rainy day in Wrexham which made the pitch of the Racecourse Ground “heavy”. Ireland started the game the strongest with good possession with passing rarely leaving the ground. The Welsh defenders stood off the Irish wingmen allowing Ireland to play deep into Welsh territory.
It was not all one way traffic as Wales did have their fair share of possession but their forward line who found good positions did not have their shooting boots on. The Welsh half-back line took charge of the game and nullified any Irish attack creating counter-attacks with swift passes to their forwards.
It was Ireland however who opened the scoring in their first meaningful attack. Jimmy Chambers (Bury) and Dick Rowley (Southampton) on the right wing made progress with the ball with the former aiming a cross across the front of the Welsh goal. Jackie Mahood (Belfast Celtic) met the ball and scored with a low shot past Albert Gray (Manchester City).
Wales restarted the match and immediately tried to push into the Irish half but with the soaking turf the ball was greasy which brought errors out of the players. Ireland meanwhile seemed to take to the conditions better when Joe Bambrick (Linfield) brought out a diving save from Gray. Wales did come close to equalising when a pass from Fred Warren (Cardiff City) to Eugene O’Callaghan (Tottenham) but he missed.
The first half ended with the Irish leading one nil.
Almost straight from the match restarting for the second half William Davies (Notts County) burst down the right-wing for Wales and put in a cross which Billy Mays (Notts County) met and scored to bring the scores level.
Wales were soon in front for the first time. Outside-Left Warren beat two Irish players on a mazy run and subsequently beat goalkeeper Elisha Scott (Liverpool) with a fine goal.
Ireland kept their heads and during an attack the leather struck the hand of Stan Bowsher (Burnley) which the referee subsequently awarded a penalty to Ireland. It was Andy McCluggage (Burnley) who took the spot-kick and with a powerful strike scored for Ireland.
Wales were the superior side until the final whistle as they sought to score a winning goal on their home turf. The Irish defenders McCluggage and Billy McCandless (Glasgow Rangers) were singled out for praise as they “took the ordeal with pluck and confidence” and kept the Welsh at bay until the final whistle was blown by referee Pennington.
The final score was Wales 2 – 2 Ireland.