IT wasn’t to be for Joe Allen and Wales last night as their World Cup dream died at the hands of the Republic of Ireland in Cardiff.

A win would have secured a play-off spot for Chris Coleman’s side, but they were ultimately undone by a 57th minute winner from James McClean.

It means Wales are still yet to qualify for a World Cup tourmanent since taking part in Sweden in 1958.

And on a night that started in memorable fashion at the Cardiff City Stadium, with Welsh fans performing a rousing rendition of the national anthem without the need for backing music, it was the unscheduled departure of Allen in the first half that arguably turned the tide.

The 27-year-old was adjudged the Wales supporters’ man of the match after their 1-0 win in Georgia on Friday, and again started the game superbly on Monday, industrious in midfield and producing his usual quality and tempo when in possession.

But 10 minutes before the break, the Stoke City man was caught in a hefty challenge between McClean and David Meyler, and was assessed by medical staff before having to be substituted.

And it clearly affected the home side, with Coleman forced into a tactical re-shuffle with Jonny Williams coming on and Aaron Ramsey forced to drop deeper in midfield.

“We missed Joe, he’s critical to how we play and it affected us when he went off,” said Coleman afterwards.

Allen is now also a big doubt for Stoke’s trip to Manchester City on Saturday.