Fleetwood rises to the Challenge in style

Junior Brown for England C v Italy in the International Challenge Trophy at Fleetwood's Highbury Stadium.
Junior Brown for England C v Italy in the International Challenge Trophy at Fleetwood's Highbury Stadium.

A Highbury crowd of 4,628 turned out to see England C begin their International Challenge Trophy campaign with a 1-1 draw against Italy.

Federico Angiulli scored the opening goal three minutes after-half time and Luton Town’s Adam Watkins struck an added-time equaliser that his side’s efforts had fully deserved.

It was a proud night for Fleetwood as international football came to Highbury for the first time and two of Town’s table-topping squad started for England – Danny Rose and Junior Brown.

Rose wore the captain’s armband, and for Brown it was an opportunity to resurrect a frustrating season at club level.

The early stages were played at pace as Brown, though short of match practice, caught the eye on England’s left.

Italy’s Fabio Meduki hit the post from long range after 15 minutes, triggering an exciting passage of play during which both sides had opportunities as the action switched from end to end in exhilarating style.

Italian keeper Alberto Brignoli had to be alert to deny Rose a goal on his home turf.

Matty Blair and Michael Coulson’s strong running was a feature of the first half-hour and the pair combined after 27 minutes, with Grimsby Town’s Coulson just failing to capitalise.

As the teams left the pitch to generous applause at half time it was surprising that neither had broken the deadlock.

It took just three second-half minutes for the visitors to take the lead and, befitting such an open game, it was a spectacular goal.

The ball came left to Federico Anguilli, who struck a spinning left-foot shot off the outside of the boot past Tamworth keeper Jonathan Hedge.

England came back strongly, with some quick interplay, and Scott Spencer’s flick went agonisingly close to the upright after 55 minutes.

Rose was replaced by York’s Ashley Chambers after 69 minutes, one of four changes made by England manager Paul Faircloug.

England continued to press for the equaliser as Barrow’s Adam Boyes had a shot deflected for a corner with six minutes left.

Just as it looked as if England’s workrate was not to be rewarded, Watkins struck with a dramatic late equaliser as Brignoli left his goal.

DAVID MITCHELL

England C (starting XI): 1.Jonathan Hedge (Tamworth) 2. Kevin Roberts (Cambridge) 3. Junior Brown (Fleetwood) 4. Jamie Turley (Forest Green) 5. Kenny Davis (Braintree) 6. Edward Oshodi (Forest Green) 7. Michael Coulson (Grimsby) 8. Kieron Forbes (Forest Green) 9. Scott Spencer (Hyde) 10. Danny Rose (Fleetwood) 11. Matthew Blair (York)