Republic of Ireland U21s: 1
England C: 2
Pearson 65, Roberts 67
England C: Andy Coughlin (Calum Kitscha 77), James Bolton, Ben Heneghan (Charlie Goode 73), Sean Raggett, Jordan Roberts, Alex Woodyard, Jake Gallagher (Callum Chettle 46), Frazer Shaw, Kingsley James, Matty Pearson, Louis Moult (Aaron Williams 61)
By Matt Badcock In Galway
ARE you watching Greg Dyke?
There is a big question mark over the future of England C. FA cuts to fund chairman Dyke’s commission, including 3G hubs around the country, means this could be their last game.
Non-League’s Three Lions are seen as dispensable and the team that has capped more than 200 players who later have gone onto play in the Football League could be scrapped.
So, right when it was needed most, they sent a message out to the decision makers at Wembley with a brilliant win against Republic of Ireland U21s.
Two long-range goals in two minutes, first from Matty Pearson and then a hammer shot from Jordan Roberts, put them in the driving seat.
Sean Maguire curled one in for Ireland to cut the deficit and set-up a tense finale, but England held on.
It was a victory not just for Step 1 of the Non-League Pyramid but further down too. Paul Fairclough’s side finished the game with four players on the pitch from Step 3 clubs.
Dulwich Hamlet’s Frazer Shaw started while Ilkeston midfielder Callum Chettle, Rushall Olympic striker Aaron Williams and Hendon’s Charlie Goode came off the bench.
In all, Fairclough handed six players their first England C caps and they certainly seized their chance.
The howling wind and driving rain didn’t make for a great spectacle in the first half. When Ireland almost got in with a good move, Dover Athletic defender Sean Raggett was there with a vital intervention to take the ball off the toe of Shamir Goodwin.
Fortunately the pitch at Eamonn Deacy Park held up. But it wasn’t until after the break that the game really kicked into life when Pearson opened the scoring on 65 minutes.
The captain, winning his ninth C cap, turned in midfield and sent a long range strike into the top corner.
In the blink of an eye it was two. Ireland gave the ball away, Aldershot’s Roberts gathered, drove forward before unleashing an unstoppable strike from distance.
Ireland, featuring a number of England-based players, stepped up a gear and got back in the game with eight minutes remaining.
West Ham United’s Maguire turned in the box and curled into the net. England needed to dig deep and they had a real let off in stoppage time when substitute Pierce Sweeney headed over an open goal from two yards.
For full action and reaction from inside the England C camp – pick up Sunday’s NLP.