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England C 2 Wales C 2: Young Lions and Wales in esteemed company

England C

Some of the England C squad bumped into Wales and Real Madrid star Gareth Bale in the lift of their team hotel.

Paul Fairclough’s Three Lions stayed under the same roof as Ryan Giggs’ full Welsh side, a short corner away from Manchester United’s imposing Old Trafford home.

Such was the proximity that Giggs and co even boarded the wrong coach ahead of a training session.

But the United great would no doubt have approved of the football on show on Tuesday night when he, and other members of the senior Wales side, took their seat at Salford City, the club he co-owns.

In the end it was his and Bale’s fellow countrymen, drawn from the Welsh Premier League, who had the last say of an entertaining encounter. Twice England C led and twice Wales C came from behind – substitute Adam Roscow firing in to level at two goals apiece.

“Winning in these types of games is not the all-important thing for us, it really isn’t,” Fairclough said. “If it’s an International Challenge Trophy game that’s perhaps different, but this is not what that’s all about for me. It’s about the performance and, apart from a couple of individual mistakes which you’re always going to get, I was really pleased with the performance.

“We set out that we were going to pass the ball and move it through the thirds, create opportunities and create chances. We didn’t pull the trigger enough but we created lots of opportunities to do that.

“Once again, it looked like the players have played together for quite a long time and there was a real understanding amongst them. I though there were some really outstanding performances out there.”

With more than 100 scouts watching on, it was a perfect evening to impress.

Debutant Luke Trotman certainly caught the eye. The Darlington right-back raided forward at every opportunity and it was his good work that led to the opener. Taking James Hardy’s pass in his stride he twisted inside and outside his man to get to the byline and drill a low ball that cannoned off the unfortunate Nathan Peate and into the net.

While they have little coaching time, Fairclough always gives his players a Licence to Thrill. The pressures and strict structure of club football are put aside on international duty with Fairclough’s team told to embrace that freedom.

“I’m not stupid, I’ve been there and I know what kind of pressures managers are under and what needs to be done,” Fairclough said. “Particularly when you’re not having good form at club level, you tend to do (basics) even more.

“But I’m not under that pressure any longer. I’m more about the development of the players and therefore I want to give them licence to do those things.

“Every single player came off that pitch smiling because he’d enjoyed the game of football, he’d enjoyed the way the team played. For me, that’s great.”

None more so than AFC Fylde’s Hardy, who always thrives in England colours. Before the breakthrough, his light feet took him past several despairing Welsh challenges and into the box but he couldn’t get a clean shot away.

His passes around the corner, step-overs, nutmegs and willingness to take his man on brought smiles to faces. One second-half run, complete with flicks and tricks, had him surrounded by red shirts and his progress only halted abruptly.

But there’s always something to be said for the set-piece and Wales equalised through one from the training ground. A dummy before the cross allowed Kayne McLaggon to get into space and finish Clayton Green’s wicked free-kick delivery.

Mark Jones’ side were more than playing their part and the goal raised the volume of the travelling support.

An open-age side, they were determined to show the WPL has talent while also avenging their 3-2 defeat to England 12 months’ ago.

Captain Aeron Edwards is a driving force and Henry Jones, who was at Fylde last term, impressed.

But England were dominating the ball. Gateshead defender Jon Mellish regularly carried out of central defence where he performed well alongside captain Laurence Maguire, brother of England international Harry.

FC United striker Kurt Willoughby put England back in front eight minutes after the break with a low free-kick that flashed past Alex Ramsey.

From there it looked like England would go on and get more. Hardy’s adventure increasingly became dealt with at source by Wales but it was Jones’ introduction of Roscow that restored parity.

Having already escaped in behind once, he then raced onto Chris Venables’ looped through ball and sent a laser strike into Ben Killip’s top corner.

National League surprise package Gateshead were the club best represented in the 16-man squad with Mellish joined by Greg Olley and Tom White.

The latter two – both debutants – combined in search of a winner when White’s forward pass allowed Olley, who had a good game, sneak in between defender and keeper and, falling backwards, hook the ball onto the inside of the post before it was cleared.

A one-two put Hardy in at the death but Wales skipper Edwards recovered to make a brilliant block for a deserved draw.

England C: Ben Killip (Ryan Huddart 83); Luke Trotman, Laurence Maguire, Jon Mellish. Dan Jones (Dan Happe 53); Josh Taylor; Luke James (Joe Rowley 70), Greg Olley, Ed Williams (Tom White 49), James Hardy; Kurt Willoughby (Brandon Goodship 81)

Wales C: Alex Ramsey; Dylan Rees, Emlyn Lewis, Nathan Peate, Chris Hugh (Callum Robert 90); Aeron Edwards, Chris Venables, Clayton Green (Robbie Patten 77); Henry Jones (Adam Roscow), Kayne McLaggon (Liam Thomas 68), Eliot Evans (Danny Brookwell 57) Subs not used: Ashley Morris, Jake Phillips, Matthew Jones, Kieran Mills-Evans

Match Stats:
England v Wales
2 Shots on target 2
2 Shots off target 0
1 Corners 4
1 Offside 2
7 Fouls conceded 8
1 Yellow Cards 1
0 Red Cards 0

Att: 709
Entertainment: 4/5
Referee: David Munro (Scotland)

By Matt Badcock

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