Mitchell Cole and Michael Morrison scored as the Three Lions beat Wales to maintain their perfect record.
England C 2-0 Wales
International Challenge Trophy, Group A
Wednesday 20 February 2008
St James' Park, Exeter City FC
Football League scouts and managers were amongst the crowd of 2,443 as England C beat Wales 2-1 at Exeter City's St James' Park on Wednesday night.
The match was billed as a shoot-out between the leading scorers in the top tier of English non-League football - Stuart Fleetwood and Scott Rendell - but just hours before kick-off, Rendell's loan move to League Two Peterborough United was confirmed, ruling him out of the game.
Fleetwood showed just why he has been linked with a string of League clubs in the fifth minute. Michael Morrison failed to get enough on a header back to Lance Cronin in the England goal following a long ball over the top and Fleetwood showed great anticipation to pounce. Flicking the ball past Cronin with the outside of his foot, the ball hit the left hand post before agonisingly rolling across the goal.
Aldershot's Lewis Chalmers had England's first chance on 17 minutes after a fluid passing move that he began, finding Dean Moxey wide on the left. Moxey burst into the box, found Shaun Harrad, who then squared the ball to the onrushing Chalmers on the edge of the box but the midfielder fired over.
As both sides continued to scrap for possession, England were indebted to Cronin for standing tall and keeping the scores level on 31 minutes. Craig Jones poked the ball past the challenge of John Brayford but his left foot shot from 12 yards was well beaten away by the Ebbsfleet United keeper.
After Russell Penn had screwed a shot wide, The Three Lions took the lead on 39 minutes. Mitchell Cole and Shaun Harrad had been involved in some clever link-up play, and this time Cole's flick found Harrad in the left channel, and onside. Harrard bore down on the Welsh goal and squared the perfect ball for Cole to fire home at full stretch from eight yards.
Almost immediately Chad Bond drifted a shot inches wide of the England goal as the game continued to open up but England held on to their advantage at half-time.
Whatever was in the tea at half-time saw the game immediately burst back into life. On 49 minutes, Wales' Alex Lawless stepped inside Moxey and rifled a 20 yard shot across Cronin into the far corner, a goal which was a carbon copy of Steven Gerrard's finish against Inter Milan.
Refusing to be knocked out of their stride, England immediately went on the offensive and Penn's corner saw Morrison steaming in unmarked to volley past Ashley Morris in the Wales goal to put England back in front two minutes later.
England were beginning to enjoy the bulk of possession and on 68 minutes they very nearly extended their lead. As the Welsh backline failed to clear the ball, an impudent flick from Cole on the edge of the box set Harrard free. The Burton frontman checked, shifted the ball onto his right foot but his fierce shot was well parried by Morris.
Again the Welsh came back and Cronin stood tall once more to defy Fleetwood in a one on one.
As both sides made substitutions, England remained in the ascendancy but four minutes from time, Wales could have levelled the scores. Edwards' left-footed cross drifted beyond the reach of Cronin but Craig Jones at the back post couldn't steer his shot on target, with the goal at his mercy.
With no further scares, at the final whistle it was The Three Lions who deservedly took the applause of the West Country crowd, in the process maintaining their one hundred percent record in the inaugural International Challenge Trophy.England:
Lance Cronin (Ebbsfleet Utd), John Brayford (Burton Albion), Liam Brownhill (Witton Albion), Ben Harding (Aldershot Town), Ronnie Henry (Stevenage Borough, capt), Michael Morrison (Cambridge Utd), Russell Penn (Kidderminster Harriers), sub Daniel Gleeson (Cambridge United, 81 mins), Lewis Chalmers (Aldershot Town), Shaun Harrad (Burton Albion), sub Ricky Holmes (Chelmsford City, 87 mins), Mitchell Cole (Stevenage Borough), sub Jeff Goulding (Fisher Athletic, 74 mins), Dean Moxey (Exeter City).Wales:
Ashley Morris (Merthyr Tydfil), Kyle Critchell (Weymouth), Adam Gross (Grays Athletic), sub Les Davies (Bangor City, 79 mins), Alex Lawless (Forest Green Rovers), Danny Parslow (York City, capt), Lee Surman (Port Talbot Town), sub Jamie Rewbury (Merthyr Tydfil, 72mins), Michael Byrne (Northwich Victoria), sub Sion Edwards (Bangor City, 70mins), Paul Fowler (Carmarthen Town), Chad Bond (CF Balaguer), Stuart Fleetwood (Forest Green Rovers), Craig Jones (Llanelli AFC), sub Ross Stephens (87 mins).