A well-contested match, between two evenly matched sides, eventually resulted in a 2-1 victory for Middlesex.
We took the early initiative. Kai Peters was just off target with a long-range shot. Frankie Harper headed Emre Top’s corner just past the post. Alex Charlambous delivered a curling free kick which just evaded 3 attackers’ heads in the Sussex penalty area.
However, our visitors took the lead in the 6th minute. Our goalkeeper, Callum Coulter, failed to gather a back pass and the tenacious Sussex striker, James Waters won possession and netted. This was a very unusual lapse by Callum, who subsequently atoned with some fine saves.
We levelled within 2 minutes, through Kai Peters’ well-struck shot, which curled past keeper Roddy Radley-Smith’s outstretched arms, into the corner of the goal.
Then, James Walters, who had an excellent match and was a constant threat to our defence, burst through the middle and clipped the top of our cross-bar. He then took a free-kick on the right, which was well saved by Callum.
We went ahead in the 24th minute when a fine move involving James Bromley, Ben Awuah and Emre Top ended with Emre netting.
The Sussex skipper, Rob Deda then tested Callum with two long-range free kicks, one which bounced awkwardly and the other high and powerfully hit.
Just before the interval, Ben Awuah set up James Bromley, who disappointingly pulled his shot wide across goal.
Score at half time: Middlesex 2 Sussex 1
Sussex had the better of the second half territorially and our defence did very well to contain them.
James Bromley shot wide when well placed and then our visitors, led by James Waters, mounted several threatening attacks. Callum Coulter palmed away a high shot by Harrison Mott for a corner and then went full length to save from James Waters.
At the other end of the field, Ben Awuah tested the Sussex keeper, Roddy Radley-Smith with a fierce drive. Roddy couldn’t hold the ball, which bounced away from him but he managed to recover it as James Bromley closed in.
Sussex came very close to equalising when James Waters cut through the middle of our defence but the advancing Callum came to the rescue.
As the game progressed, we found it increasingly difficult to make an impact and consequently, our visitors were able to keep the initiative. Alex Charlambous brought down Alfie Barnes in a dangerous position just outside our penalty box. Fortunately for us, Rob Deda hit the free-kick high and wide. Alfie dribbled through our defence but Callum saved low down. However, the referee, who had initially applied the advantage option, took the ball back for the original foul. So Callum was brought into action again by the resulting powerful free kick, which he palmed around the post.
We mounted some attacks, in which James Bromley was prominent, towards the end of the 90 minutes. James made a run into Sussex penalty area but a defender managed to divert the ball back to his keeper. Then he won the ball from a defender but placed his finishing shot wide.
Result: Middlesex 2 Sussex 1
Our thanks are given to Harefield United for allowing us to stage this fixture and for their splendid hospitality.
Middlesex: Callum Coulter (Bedfont Sports), Jayden Gibson (Pinner Albion), Tevis Panaritti (Conquest Academy), Daniel Fernandez (Pinner Albion), Michael O’Neil (Harefield United) (capt), Frankie Harper (Pinner Albion), Emre Top (Pap-aid Youth), Alex Charlambous (AEK Youth), James Bromley (Pinner Albion), Ben Awuah (Conquest Academy) and Kai Peters (AEK Youth).
Substitutes (replacement substitutes were used): Guerin Nimi and Zakarite Jama (both Conquest Academy), Harry O’Donoghue (Pinner Albion), Connor Derby (Wealdstone),
Manager: Darrel Gyngell Coaches: Remi Bignall and Vince Purdue Physio: Barbara Bivens.
Sussex: Roddy Radley-Smith (ASC Strikers), Louie Mockford-Allott (Bognor Regis Town Youth), Morgan Hayward (Three Bridges Youth), Lewis Bond (Withdean Youth), Daniel Addy (Lewes Bridge View Juniors), Bradley Higgins-Pearce (Barnham Trojans), Tobi Minter, Harrison Mott (both Worthing Dynamos), James Waters, Rob Deda (capt) (both Whitehawk) and Michael Watt (Cuckfield Cosmos).
Substitutes: Callum Litterick (Barnham Trojans), Dane Tasker (Rottingdean Village), Alfie Barnes and Robert Malila (both Lewes Bridge View Juniors).
Manager: Paul Atkinson Assistant Manager: Ian Brown Coaches: Andy Gander and Tom Atkinson.
Referee: Chris Hartley Assistant Referees: David Lea and Roger Wheeler (all Middlesex)
Photos from the game are available here courtesy of Chris Benn.