Wales C 2-3 England C – Okenabirhie’s hatrick consigns battling Wales to defeat
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Dagenham & Redbridge’s Fejiri Okenababirhie was the difference as England C came out on top in their friendly with Wales C.
The two sides met at Jenner Park Stadium for the first semi-professional international fixture for Wales in five years.
Wales had their first opportunity when Chris Hugh’s cross wasn’t dealt with, allowing Aeron Edwards to have a half-chance on goal at Grant Smith, who palmed it out to Daniel Gossett, with his shot deflecting for a corner.
From the resulting corner, Eliot Evans found Cardiff Met teammate Adam Roscrow who headed over from close range.
Mark Jones’ side was made to pay for not converting their chance when Dan Maguire picked up a loose ball and squared it to Fejiri Okenababirhie who powered it home for the opening goal.
After the goal, Wales continued to come under pressure from the Lions, forcing them to sit deep whilst they chased possession off of England. Ryan Croasdale was the next to test Ashley Morris, as he hit a shot from outside the box, forcing the Bala man into a save. Mitchell Pinnock also tested Morris when he lined up a shot, forcing Morris to tip the ball over the bar.
The Dragons were presented with an opportunity though when Edwards robbed Croasdale of possession, allowing John Owen to pick it up, he dragged his shot just wide of the goal. Adam Roscrow also went close with an effort looked to be going at goal, but for an England block.
England should have doubled their tally when Maguire skilfully worked his way into the box, squaring it to Hardy who hit the crossbar from just yards out, with Okenababirhie heading over on the rebound in the dying stages of the first half.
Wales began the second half brightly as they looked to get back into the game. Chris Venables found John Owen on the far side and he forced Smith to save low at his near post. England, however, went up the other end, as Maguire found Okenababirhie again but his shot was straight at Morris.
England doubled their advantage in the 52nd when they were awarded a penalty after Hugh was judged to have tripped Maguire inside the box. Okenababirhie doubled his tally for the night as he hit his penalty hard into the right-hand corner.
Mark Jones rolled the dice when he brought on Carmarthen Town striker Mark Jones and Toby Jones on for Adam Roscrow and John Owen, he was rewarded with the decision though. Chris Hugh’s low cross found the feet of Mark Jones and he skillfully turned and powered it low into the goal.
That goal gave Wales confidence as they enjoyed a fair share of their possession, but England were standing their ground, quelling Welsh pressure.
With just fifteen minutes remaining, England and Okenababirhie had his hat-rick, after going unchallenged he unleashed a powerful effort from 20 yards out, catching Morris off guard.
Wales, however, pulled one back just five minutes later. England failed to clear Eliot Evans free-kick and Bala Town talisman Chris Venables smashed one home to give Mark Jones’ side hope.
They very nearly pulled back an equaliser when Toby Jones hit a powerful shot, forcing Montgomery to save. A ball was flicked over to Edwards who was forced to shoot from a tight angle, putting his shot over the bar.
England held out for the victory, withstanding late pressure from Wales.
Wales C: A Morris, K Edwards, C Hugh, M Pearson, C Rawlinson (C), D Gossett (Cotterill 78), E Evans (Arsan 87), A Edwards, A Roscrow (M Jones 59), C Venables, J Owen (T Jones 59)
Subs: M Lewis, J Cotterill, N Arsan, T Jones, C Williams, N Edwards, G Williams
England C: G Smith (Montgomery 80), S Ling, D Jones, Horsfall (J Jones 73) J Staunton, R Ramshaw (C Adams 63), R Croasdale (C), M Pinnock, D Maguire (Gilchrist 76), J Hardy, F Okenababirhie (Barratt 80)
Subs: J Jones, J Montgomery, C Adams, Barratt, J Gilchrist Referee: Tim Marshall (Northern Ireland)
(Featured Image: Will Cheshire Photography)