Gallery: Laird and Byrom feature in England C defeat

England C 0 Belgium 1 International Challenge Trophy Final James Ronayne at Kassam Stadium BORO duo Scott Laird and Joel Byrom both made their England C debuts in Tuesday night s 1-0 defeat to Belgium in the final of the International Challenge Trophy.

England C 0 Belgium 1

International Challenge Trophy Final

James Ronayne at Kassam Stadium

BORO duo Scott Laird and Joel Byrom both made their England C debuts in Tuesday night's 1-0 defeat to Belgium in the final of the International Challenge Trophy.

The pair were given the nod by England C manager and former Boro boss Paul Fairclough and both came close to opening the scoring.

With just three minutes on the clock, Laird's curling free kick went narrowly over the bar and then eight minutes later, Byrom, from an almost identical position, curled a free kick wide of the post.

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Kettering's Exodus Geohaghan was heavily involved at both ends of the pitch and his huge throw was one of England's main attacking threats.

A long ball through the middle of the England defence found Brecht Capon, but the Club Brugge striker was outmuscled by Darius Charles and England cleared the danger.

Capon has played 12 times for Belgian premier division side Club Brugge this season and his class told. The 22-year-old striker was inches away from giving the visitors the lead but he couldn't connect with the cross.

Geohaghan launched another huge throw into the Belgian box which took one bounce and looped inches over the bar while at the other end Belgian skipper Vadis Odjidja Ofoe skipped away from Byrom and had a shot from the halfway line that wasn't too far off target.

Sven Kums' free kick found Bart Biemans at the far post but he headed wide when he should have done better as the sides entered the interval level.

The visitors had the ball in the net three minutes after the break when Radja Nainggolan fired home but the goal was ruled out because the ball was out of play before the cross came in.

Boro new-boy Byrom was replaced on 55 minutes by Wrexham's Andrew Fleming.

A characteristic run from Laird down the left saw his pinpoint cross met by the head of England captain Russell Penn but the Kidderminster winger's header looped harmlessly into the arms of Belgium stopper Simon Mignolet.

The Red Devils grabbed what turned out to be the winner in the 64th minute and it was that man Capon who got the goal.

With England pushing for a goal, the visitors broke and Capon fired into the roof of the net from an acute angle leaving England goalkeeper Adam Bartlett no chance.

Fairclough rang the changes and Laird was replaced on 78 minutes by Sean Newton.

With five minutes remaining a corner found Geohaghan at the far post who knocked the ball down to James Constable but the Oxford striker was crowded out and the opportunity disappeared.

Geohaghan was thrown into attack by Fairclough and another of the Kettering man's throw-ins found its way to Newton but his left-footed effort from the edge of the box flew over the bar.

England's best chance came with just a minute remaining.

Lee Tomlin's cross was met by substitute Ishmael Welsh at the far post, whose effort beat goalkeeper Mignolet but was cleared off the line with Constable fluffing the rebound.

It was to be the last chance of the game as Belgium held on to be crowned International Challenge Trophy champions.

The Boro pair can be pleased with their night's work. Byrom worked hard in midfield and covered a lot of ground while Laird's marauding runs were a feature throughout his time on the pitch with the Boro left back England's star performer on the night.

England C: Barltett 7; Densmore 6, Charles 7, Geohaghon 7, Laird 8* (Newton 78m); Penn 6 (Welsh 78), Wroe 6, Byrom 7 (Fleming 55m), Tomlin 5, Constable 6, Clayton 6 (Hearn 69). Sub not used: Cronin (GK).

Belgium: Mignolet; Kitoko (Lella 85m), Biemans, Cabeke, Dachelet; Mujangi Bia, Odjidja Ofoe, Villano (Kage 89m), Nainggolan; Kums; Capon (De Wilde 86m). Subs not used: Coppens, Van Gijseghem, Coppin.

Referee: Mark Whitby (Wales)

Att: 2,842

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