The Dragons put in a strong display but lacked the final product required to get past a resolute Albania backline.
Rob Page will now have a tough task ahead of him, as he leads Wales into the European Championships hoping to replicate the success of Euro 2016.
Story of the match
Page made eight changes to the side that were beaten 3-0 against France on Wednesday night. Neco Williams, who was harshly dismissed midweek, was given clearance to play against Albania.
The 6,500 inside the Cardiff City Stadium belted 'Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau' when both sides stood for the national anthems, as they looked to rekindle the spirit shown in Euro 2016 back into the side ahead of the tournament.
Wales held 66% possession in the opening 14 minutes of the game, as they were forced to pass around a forceful Albania, who pressed on the front foot, which mimics the style of Switzerland.
The hosts, however, experienced a major let-off on 17 minutes, as a diagonal ball forward was taken into Rey Manaj’s path. The forward managed to shrug Chris Mepham to the ground before rifling high and over Wayne Hennessey’s goal.
Moments later, David Brooks almost found a way through a resolute backline. But Berat Djimsiti followed the line of the ball and managed to pry possession away from the feet of the AFC Bournemouth attacker.
The Dragons’ slow start was soon shaken off as the host began to take advantage of their dominance on the ball, becoming more fluid with possession and utilising the runs of Aaron Ramsey in that ‘centre forward’ role.
On the half-hour mark, Wales had a glorious opportunity presented to themselves. Ethan Ampadu enjoyed an unchallenged march forward and, as Ramsey angled an uncontested run into space, the defender slipped and miscued his delivery out for a goal kick.
Then, with five minutes remaining of the first half, Ramsey fired wide of the target with the outside of his right boot after connecting with Brooks’ sumptuous ball into the front post from the left.
Wales continued their strong finish into the second period, as Page brought on Kieffer Moore for Ampadu, as the home side altered their formation.
Williams had the second half’s opening chance, as he struck a thunderous effort from range over the bar.
Moments later, Ramsey threaded a tremendous ball down the left for Brooks, who subsequently chipped a delivery towards Moore on the penalty spot, but Ardian Ismajli managed to nip in and clear.
Moore and Brooks linked up well again on the hour, but Albania defended well to stop the effort.
With under 20 minutes to go, Williams stung the gloves of Gentian Selmani with the game’s first shot on target, striking Matthew Smith’s tee-up from the edge of the area with power, but the ‘keeper matched it well.
Gareth Bale, who was handed 20 minutes by Page, then sent a lovely ball into the centre from the left, which was glanced wide by Moore.
Wales face Switzerland in their first match of Euro 2020 on Saturday 12 June in Baku.
Takeaways from the match
Should Kieffer Moore, Harry Wilson or Aaron Ramsey start as Wales’ centre forward?
The beauty of this Welsh side is their flexibility and fluidity when in and out of possession. There are many players in Page’s squad, who can play a variety of different formations and styles.
They have started in a 3-4-3 formation with a ‘false nine’ in both of their friendlies ahead of the tournament, with Harry Wilson starting against France and Ramsey starting this evening with Moore coming off the bench on both occasions.
However, Moore has enjoyed the most prolific campaign of his career, scoring 20 goals in 42 Championship fixtures for Cardiff City. When the 28-year-old was introduced against Albania, Wales looked more of a forced going forward, as his movement and physicality disrupted a sturdy backline.
Ramsey started the game as that ‘false nine’ and performed well with his bright runs. But Ramsey’s best games for his country have come when playing deeper, where his late drives into the area create goal-scoring opportunities.
With Wilson, he has also had a good season in the Welsh capital with 18 goal involvements in 37 games. The Liverpool academy product played 21 of those loan appearances as an attacking midfielder, scoring six goals and assisting eight in that position.
To conclude, the form and stature of Moore would be too important for Wales to overlook, as a player of his quality and efficiency would benefit the way Page likes to play.