The Middlesex under16 team kicked off its South East Counties Youth Championship season on Sunday last with a trip into Kent. The match was hosted by Faversham Town FC at their excellent Shepherd Neame Stadium.
The defences emerged on top in a hard fought and entertaining match which failed to produce any goals. It was generally agreed that a draw was a fair result.
Middlesex were the nearest to scoring in the first half when, in the 10th minute, Kahlil Francis broke clear of the home defence and put in a fierce low shot which hit the inside of the post and rebounded across the goal to safety.
Felix Amoah had a couple of attempts during a rare attacking flurry in the 26th minute. His free kick from around 25 yards was too high and then he had a goalbound shot blocked by a defender.
Felix brought Ryan Tyler, the Kent custodian, into action immediately after the break. Ryan dived at Felix’s feet to smother the ball and then went full length to save a low drive.
Then Kahlil hit a low cross, from the left, fractionally wide of the post.
Middlesex keeper, Damian Pawlak, did well to turn Dwayne Cattah’s powerful header from Ross Johnstone’s cross over the bar.
We then put the home defence under pressure. Jonathon Novak progressed up the left and put in a good low cross for Joe Mills, whose drive was deflected for a corner. A well hit effort from Kahlil Francis was pushed over by Ryan Tyler. Then, despite being under considerable pressure, Ryan held a dangerous lofted free kick by Ronnie Heath from wide on the right.
The dangerous home striker, Charlie Dale rattled our crossbar following a goalmouth melee.
Middlesex resumed the attack and Ryan Tyler went full length to keep out an awkward shot from Jonathon. The resultant loose ball narrowly eluded Shammer Swaby. Eiza Azab put a perceptive through ball inside the defender for Jonathon, who hit the side netting. Then a good chance fell to Eiza. A corner by Shammar went to Kahlil and then on to Eiza, who swept the ball wide from close range.
Charlie Dale almost snatched victory for our hosts with the last kick of the match, when his close range effort rebounded from our goalpost.
Kent: Ryan Tyler (Dover Athletic), Zach Collett, Mali Emeka (both Dartford), Zak Emmins (Aylesford), Samuel Aziaya (Bromley), Luke Esall (Aylesford), Charlie Dale (Dover Athletic), Jacob Gilbert (Bearstead) (capt), Dwayne Cattah (Dover Athletic), Ross Johnstone (Kennington), Jacob Grant (Folkestone Invicta).
Substitutes (rolling subs were used): Joshua Coombs (Dartford), Alistair Petrie (Bearstead) and Ben Folkard (Aylesford) (goalkeeper).
Manager: Ian Varley Assistant Manager: Lee Suter Sports Therapist: Wayne Jones.
Middlesex: Damian Pawlak (Hanwell Town Youth), Phillip Essadoah (Hendon Youth), Ronnie Heath (Sandgate Youth), Joe Mills (Ruislip Rangers), Matthew Lenihan (Wembley Youth), Liam Bakry (Ruislip Rangers) (capt), Donville Munroe (Hendon Youth), Eisa Azab (Brook House), Kahlil Francis (Hendon Youth), Felix Amoah (Wembley Youth) and Jonno Mackrill (Spartans Youth).
Substitutes : Rhys Williams (Brook House), Jonathon Novak (Cockfosters Youth), Shammer Swaby (Hendon Youth), George Deacon (Ruislip Rangers) and Theirry Thomas-Gaye (Hendon Youth) (goalkeeper).
Manager: Darrell Gyngell Assistant Manager: Wayne Little Coaches: Remi Bignall and Vince Purdue Physio: Gary Strudwick.
Referee: Geoff Vines Assistant Referees: Andy Parker and Cagri Ustaoglu.
Our thanks are given to our friends from Kent FA for their usual warm welcome and to the officials and helpers of Faversham Town FC for their hospitality.
Photographs of the match taken by Chris Benn can be found on https://flic.kr/s/aHsm7ZyPsf.