The Middlesex FA Under-16 squad travelled eastwards on Sunday last, to play their Essex FA counterparts at Aveley FC’s splendid new ground, in a South East Counties Championship match. Two evenly matched teams played some excellent football and produced a very watchable game.
We were very disjointed to start with, which wasn’t surprising considering the changes enforced on manager Darrel Gyngell by last-minute withdrawals. A total of 10 players had pulled out, including eight of the originally selected squad. Four players made their debut.
Our hosts were two goals ahead within eight minutes. However, we gradually got our game together with season ever-presents, captain Ben Lester at the centre of defence, Marco De Rosa in midfield and Brandon Clarke upfront, leading by example. We pulled a goal back five minutes before half-time and scored twice in the second-half to take the points.
Essex dominated the opening stages and Middlesex 'keeper, Eric Negaru, held on to a high shot from Lukas Zabulionis at the second attempt. However, our hosts took the lead in the fourth minute, through a penalty by Bradley Green, after Eric had pushed an attacker over on the edge of the penalty area.
The second Essex goal was netted by Shane Temple, who broke clear after dispossessing Nikola Kovacevic in midfield.
Our first serious attack was initiated by Nikola, who released Brandon Clarke. Essex custodian Thomas Ballard saved Brandon’s shot with his feet. Then Bradley Green set up Kai Stephen with a chance to further increase the home side’s lead. However, the latter shot over from a good position.
Brandon Clarke pulled a goal back for us in the 35th minute, from the penalty spot. He had controlled the ball well and was goalward bound, when he was tripped in the area. Although the 'keeper correctly dived to his right, he couldn’t reach Brandon’s low well placed shot into the corner of his net.
Both sides had further chances before the half-time whistle. Eric saved low down from Lukas Zabulionis. Kai Stephen again shot over when well placed. Yunas Mohamed took the ball through the Essex defence and drew a good save from the 'keeper. Brandon made a run which took him past several defenders but he ran out of space.
Half-time score: Essex 2 Middlesex 1
Middlesex started the second period well. Ronan Hutchins’ lob just cleared the cross bar. Brandon made another good run which released Shane McGuiness, whose shot was turned for a corner.
Yunas scored our equaliser in the 10th minute of the half with a great lob into the top corner of the net.
We were now in control of the match with our defence, marshalled by Ben Lester looking very solid. Adam Holder was called into action to make a close range save from Shane Temple.
We scored the winning goal almost exactly midway through the second-half. Ronan Hutchins picked up Yunas Mohamed’s pass to score with a superb high shot which flew into the net wide of the helpless 'keeper.
Middlesex continued to create chances. The Essex 'keeper saved at Brandon’s feet. Then his low angled drive was tipped around the post. Another of his shots was stopped on the goal line by a defender, with the 'keeper beaten. An overhead kick by Yunas shaved the bar. Finally, Ronan shot just past the post from a pass provided by Shane McGuiness.
Final score: Essex 2 Middlesex 3
Our thanks are given to the officers and staff of both Essex FA and Aveley FC for their excellent hospitality.
Essex: Thomas Ballard (Brentwood Town), Billy Harrison (Concord Rangers), Samuel Bayon (Essex Schools), Ted Turnham (Brentwood Town), Ted Penn (AFC Sudbury) (capt), Lukas Zabulionis (AFC Hornchurch), Tommy Ainsworth (Essex Minors (Hornchurch)), Finley Long (Braintree Town), Josh Ambrose (Braintree Town), Bradley Green (AFC Hornchurch) and Shane Temple (Braintree Town)
Substitutes (repeat substitutions were used): Matt Newbury (Ilford), Luke Tinger (Witham Town), Henry Paul (Billericay Town) and Kai Stephen (Ilford)
Management: Dave Agass MBE, Keith Thwaites, Dave Croker and Reece Powell
Therapists: Sheila Macaulay and Hannah Barker
Middlesex: Eric Negaru (Magix), David Amate (Brentford Development), Erion Tola (Belmont), Joshua Uwaifo (Soccerlution), Ben Lester (Hayes & Yeading United) (capt), Nikola Kovacevic (Brentford Development), Marco De Rosa (Whitton Wanderers), Ronan Hutchins (Harefield United), Brandon Clarke (Wealdstone), Yunas Mohamed (Uxbridge) and Ibrahim Elhaouari (Wingate & Finchley)
Substitutes: Moray Hinkson (Eclipse), Shane McGuiness (Brentford), Ayaz Kazi(Belmont) and Ivan Mahoney (Brentford Development) and Adam Holder (Textbook Academy) (goalkeeper for second half)
Manager: Darrel Gyngell
Coach: Wayne Little
Physio: Gary Strudwick
Referee: Paul Sturton
Assistant Referees: Glenn Baker and Steven Marr (all Essex)
All of the goals and other key moments during the match were captured by our photographer, Chris Benn and can be viewed via the link below.
VIEW PHOTOS HERE