We restored some pride, says Wales' Darcy Blake

Darcy Blake, left, and Joe Ledley battle with Croatia's Mario Mandzukic

Darcy Blake, left, and Joe Ledley battle with Croatia's Mario Mandzukic

First published in Wales football Campaign Series: Photograph of the Author by

DEFENDER Darcy Blake says Wales have restored some pride in the shirt despite another defeat in Croatia on Tuesday night.

Chris Coleman’s men were humiliated in their previous visit to the Balkans last month when they collapsed to a 6-1 defeat in Serbia.

The battling 2-0 loss to the Croats was an improvement and, coupled with victory over Scotland on Friday night, Blake believes it represents a positive few days work.

The Crystal Palace centre-back, who hails from New Tredegar, concedes that three defeats out of four will make it difficult to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil but he hasn’t entirely given up hope.

"There are some good sides in this group and we’ve still got to go away to Belgium, who are a great team, but I think we’re still in it," said the 23-year-old.

"We’re a good enough team. We’ve got our confidence back now and we’re starting to pass it about a bit, trying to do the right things.

"Performance was key in these two games," he added. "We needed to get a good performance and we did that against Scotland and against Croatia we never gave up.

"It was a hard game. Croatia are a brilliant team, probably one of the best teams we have played.

"We defended well and put our bodies on the line but they’ve got quality players throughout the team and Eduardo and Mandzukic were a real handful.

"But no one gave up and we fought to the end so we can take a bit from that and learn from the match.

We created some chances and on another night they might have gone in."

Blake blamed the dreadful state of the pitch in Osijek for the calamitous first goal on Tuesday when Ashley Williams’ backpass held up in the mud and Mario Mandzukic blocked the clearance from goalkeeper Lewis Price before tapping home.

"Things like that happen," said the former Cardiff City stalwart.

"There was no blame for anyone.

“It could have happened to anyone and in those conditions it was unlucky.

"The pitch didn’t help matters. It was the same for both teams I suppose and they deserved to win but it was far better than the last away game.

"I think in Serbia at half-time it was dead and buried and we let our heads drop but that didn’t happen this time.

"We’ll learn from this game and from our mistakes and hopefully we’ll get better."

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