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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 November, 2003, 10:36 GMT
Rogers inspires England
Shrewsbury striker Luke Rogers
Rogers was England's inspiration
England NG XI 2-2 Belgium U20s

Shrewsbury Town striker Luke Rodgers reflected on an "unbelievable night" after scoring England's late equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Belgium's under-20 side at Darlington's Reynolds Arena.

The highly-rated Rodgers provided the cross for Telford midfielder Sam Ricketts to score the England National Game XI's first goal.

Then after Belgium had gone in front for a second time, Rodgers rifled home a 25-yard free-kick two minutes from the end in front of a crowd of 3,166, a record at this level.

"Tonight was unbelievable," said the 21-year-old. "I played for my country, got to wear my favourite number-nine shirt, played in probably the best stadium I have played in to-date, and then scored our final goal on my Dad's birthday.

"He was in the crowd and was very proud of how we all played. I'll never forget this experience, whatever may happen for me in the future."

Twenty scouts from Premiership and Nationwide League clubs watched England's under-23 side twice recover from goals from Munich 1860 striker Christophe Lepointe.

We were technically not far off some players who are very likely to be playing for Belgium in the next World Cup
England boss Paul Fairclough

A fine point-blank save from Margate goalkeeper Phil Smith in the dying moments then denied Belgium a last-gasp winner to leave England boss Paul Fairclough a happy man.

He said: "The boys, both mentally and physically were warriors.

"They were as organised and committed as a club side, which is some commendation seeing as we only met on Sunday, and had a back line that came into the squad at the very last minute.

"The players never gave in and were technically not far off some players who are very likely to be playing for Belgium in the next World Cup.

"They should be hugely proud of themselves," Fairclough told The FA's website.


England: James Bittner (Exeter), Peter Cavanagh (Accrington Stanley), Tom Jordan (Tamworth), Anthony Charles (Farnborough Town), David Perkins (Morecambe), Sam Ricketts (Telford United), Lewis Hogg (Barnet), Roscoe D'Sane (Aldershot - Capt.), Luke Rodgers (Shrewsbury Town), Anthony Elding (Stevenage Borough), Aaron McLean (Aldershot).
Substitutions: Phil Smith (Margate) for Bittner (72mins), Chris Murphy (Telford United) for McLean (69mins), Gavin Cowan (Canvey Island) for Perkins (80mins), Scott Rickards (Tamworth) for Elding (46mins).




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