John Hartson gives his take on Wales' "frustrating" start to the World Cup qualifiers

They've picked up just one win from their opening four games in Group D

Hal Robson-Kanu

Image: Simon Galloway EMPICS Sport

John Hartson bemoaned Wales' failure to keep a clean sheet on Sunday's Off The Ball and cited this as the reason why they have struggled in their World Cup qualifying campaign thus far. 

Chris Coleman's side could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Serbia on Saturday evening, their third draw of the campaign leaving them four points adrift of Group D leaders, the Republic of Ireland.

Hartson pointed out that leaking goals not only cost them a win in Saturday's game, but throughout the opening matches of the group. 

"Ultimately the inability to keep clean sheets, I think that's really costing us in these qualifiers," he said. "We led against Georgia last month, 1-0, and we were pegged back.

"We led twice in Austria, 1-0 and 2-1, but we were pegged back twice. And again last night. 

"The difference is this time last year when we were trying to qualify for the European Championships, we beat Belgium 1-0 at home. We kept a clean sheet. We only conceded I think it was four goals in 10 games from the qualifiers. You can put that down to lapse in concentration, just not seeing games out. 

"And that's exactly what the Republic of Ireland are doing. On Saturday afternoon they kept a clean sheet away to Austria and I have to congratulate Martin [O'Neill] and his players on a wonderful result."

Wales now face into some tricky fixtures in 2017 and will have to pick up some big results away from home if they are to hunt down an automatic qualification spot.

"Look at the fixtures you have in the second half of the qualifying campaign. You've got Serbia to come to Dublin, Austria to come to Dublin and of course Wales in March. That's the opposite of what Wales have. We've played three of the four games already in Cardiff. 

"Three draws out of four games. We've dropped six points in our last three games. We're still in there fighting, there are still fixtures on the board but it's just very, very frustrating."