WALES C 2 ENGLAND C 3
Wales C were dealt an defeat in an entertaining encounter in which Fejiri Okenabirhie sealed England victory with a classy hat-trick at Jenner Park.
Wales spurned a glorious opportunity which would’ve given them the perfect start before England took control of the opening half.
A positive start from the Welsh left Aeron Edwards with the chance to open the scoring from six yards but England goalkeeper Grant Smith was forced into making the first save of the game. Gossett’s follow-up was an even better chance but with the goal gaping, Smith denied the Bangor City man beating the ball away.
England’s first opportunity resulted in them taking the lead against the run of play on the 10 minute mark. Wales were cruelly punished when Dan Maguire caught centre back Mike Pearson in possession before squaring the ball left to Fejiri Okenabirhie, who sent a thumping finish from 16 yards into the top right corner.
England’s high press again almost paid them dividends when Connell Rawlinson was dispossessed carrying the ball out from the back. The lively Okenabirhie charged towards goal but was swiftly body-checked by the covering Pearson.
With England getting a firm grasp of game, Ashley Morris became the busier of the two goalkeepers. A swerving shot from England captain Ryan Croasdale forced Morris to readjust and the Bala Town stopper did well to bring the ball under control. Morris was again called into action, making a diving save to direct James Hardy’s rising effort over the bar.
Despite England looking assured in possession, Wales were still able to threaten from distance.
Owen intercepted a stray pass 20 yards from goal and drove a shot wide of the post, and Roscrow served the England keeper another reminder of Wales’ attacking intent, swiftly turning and firing at goal to earn the hosts a corner from the edge of area.
It was England though who looked the more ruthless in attack. And when James Hardy headed against the frame of the goal a second goal seemed inevitable for England except Okenbirehie headed over with the goal at his mercy right on the stroke of half-time.
Much like the first, Wales began the second half brightly. Chris Venables did well to pick out John Owen whose crisp finish at the near post was saved.
But it was England who were again able to capitalise on an early chance against the run of play. Hugh brought down Dan Maguire resulting in a debatable penalty being awarded which Okenabairhie duly converted, slotting the ball low into the bottom right corner.
On 57 minutes, the introduction of Mark Jones proved to be an inspired substitiuton by his namesake manager. Chris Hugh presented Jones with an inch-perfect delivery which the centre-forward took comfortably in his stride, turning and firing into the net.
England however regained their two-goal advantage on 75 minutes as Okenabairhie rubber stamped his mark on the game as the Welsh defence backed off the former Arsenal youngster, who finished with aplomb to seal his hat-trick.
Within two minutes, rallying Wales gave themselves another lifeline. Chris Venables pounced after Kai Edwards’ free-kick found its way into the six-yard box, setting up a tense finale.
Subsutute Toby Jones saw a chance saved and Aeron Edwards struck another chance wide with time running out for Wales.
A surge of late pressure saw the Welsh side unable to find the breakthrough for a third time as England held out to win an absorbing affair.