Coasters midfielder James Hardy starred and played 90 minutes as England C won 3-2 in a thrilling international against Wales at Jenner Park.

Dagenham & Redbridge striker Fejiri Okenabirhie opened the scoring before putting the visitors two ahead early in the second-half.

Wales hit back through substitute Mark Jones before Okenabirhie hammered in a third before Chris Venables ensured a nervy finish to the game.

This was England C’s first game since defeat in the International Challenge Trophy final defeat to Slovakia U21 last November and boss Paul Fairclough, who picks his squad from non-League’s U23 talents, handed debuts to seven players in his starting line-up.

That included the whole back four of Leyton Orient’s Sam Ling, Kidderminster Harriers’ Fraser Horsfall – a late replacement for Sutton’s Louis John, Woking’s Josh Staunton and Barrow left-back Dan Jones.

Within ten minutes, England had the opener as Dan Maguire burst in behind the defence before unselfishly squaring for Okenabirhie, who strode onto the ball and flashed into the top corner.

Wales could have found themselves further behind on the stroke of half time when Ling sent Maguire in behind the defence. The Blyth Spartans’ frontman cut back for Fylde man Hardy, but his side-foot effort came back off the bar with Okenabirhie heading the rebound over.

The Daggers attacker didn’t have to wait long to get his second and it came on 53 minutes from the penalty spot. Maguire cut inside from the right and was tripped inside the box by Chris Hugh with Okenabirhie slamming the ball low inside the post beyond Morris’ dive.

Wales boss Mark Jones made changes from the bench and it was his namesake who made an immediate impact, turning in the area to fire in and cut the deficit on 63 minutes.

But Okenabirhie got his third after 73 minutes when he fired in from outside the box to restore the two-goal advantage.

Back came Wales, just five minutes later, when the experienced Venables smashed in.

The crowd could sense and equaliser. Aeron Edwards had an opening, but shot over and England twice had to scramble clear as they held on for a thrilling win.

England C: Smith (Montgomery 81); Ling, Horsfall (J Jones 73), Staunton, D Jones; Ramshaw (Adams 62), Croasdale, Pinnock; Hardy, Maguire (Gilchrist 77), Okenabirhie (Barratt 81)

Goals: Okenabirhie 10, 53, 75

Wales: Morris; K Edwards, Pearson, Rawlinson, Hugh; Gossett (Cotterill 79), A Edwards; Evans (Arsan 82), Venables, Owen (T Jones 60); Roscrow (M Jones 60)

Subs not used: Lewis, C Williams, N Edwards, G Williams

Match report courtesy of the