Middlesex came back from a goal down at home to Wiltshire on Saturday to progress to the third round of the FA County Youth Cup.
The holders, who were playing their first game in the competition since last April’s historic final victory against Cornwall, produced a resilient performance against what proved to be a strong and industrious Wiltshire side.
After some good play in the early stages, Malachy McGovern, who had starred in last season’s FA County Youth Cup team, got the hosts off the mark, reacting quickest to a drop down from a corner to prod Middlesex in front after just five minutes.
Middlesex were looking dangerous on the wings and the impressive Simeon Olerin then teed up right-back, Jack Roper, who saw his headed effort glance just wide of the Wiltshire goalkeeper’s right- hand post.
Roper and Olerin continued to threaten the Wiltshire defence and Adam House in the Wiltshire goal was called into action to make a smart stop at his near post from an Olerin header, before watching Roper’s cross-shot narrowly evade his crossbar.
House’s counterpart Callum Coulter had yet to be significantly tested in the Middlesex goal but, on 41 minutes, he found himself picking the ball out of his net after Wiltshire’s Ronan Clancy had been brought down in the box following a quick counter-attack. Harvey Flippance confidently dispatched the resulting penalty to level the score.
Despite two late efforts from Alex Hadjithemistou, first dragging a shot wide from the edge of the box and then getting on the end of a cross to flick narrowly wide, both teams went in level at the break.
Though the first 45 minutes proved to be somewhat of a stalemate, it was impossible to take your eyes off the second half.
Wiltshire started the better after the break and just ten minutes into the half, Harvey Flippance pounced again to score his second of the game after Sekan Killic’s shot was parried into his path.
Wiltshire began to control the game and looked the more likely to score.
Middlesex manager, John Fletcher decided to make a change and Felix Amoah was introduced on the right hand side of midfield with Olerin dropping back to the right hand side of defence. This changed proved pivotal and just nine minutes later the hosts were level once again. Rawn Seale, who had been kept quiet by the Wiltshire defence for much of the game, got on the end of a through ball and showed great composure to finish low past the onrushing goalkeeper.
Wiltshire started to push men forward in the search for an elusive third goal, but just ten minutes after drawing level, Malachy McGovern grabbed his second of the game rising highest from a corner to loop a well-placed header over the keeper and into the net.
Any hopes of a Wiltshire comeback were well and truly over a minute later when substitute, Felix Amoah, linked up well with Olerin down the right hand side before delivering a precise cross into the path of Rawn Seale who once again showed a cool head to slot the ball into the Wiltshire net and put Middlesex 4-2 up.
Wiltshire pressed late on but the Middlesex back line battled courageously to see out the game and guarantee their place in the third round of the competition.
Final score: 4-2
Our thanks to Referee, Martin Cannon and his assistants, Simon Wainwright and Johnny Singer (all London FA) who officiated the game well. Thanks are also given to the volunteers at Uxbridge FC for their superb hospitality.
Middlesex: Callum Coulter (Bedfont Sports FC), Jack Roper (Hayes & Yeading United FC), Franco Saviano (Wingate & Finchley FC), Luke Alfano (Wingate & Finchley FC), Imran Uche , Chris Forineo (Cheshunt FC), Simeon Olerin (Hayes & Yeading United FC), Malachy McGovern (Hendon FC), Alex Hadjithemistou (Cheshunt FC), Rawn Seale (Wealdstone FC), James Raptis (Hendon FC)
Substitutes: Felix Amoah (Wembley Youth FC) and Jay O’Connell
Not used: Ronnie Heath (Sandgate Youth FC), Sonny Wheeler (Northwood FC), Josh Blaize-Carr (Hayes & Yeading FC)
Manager: John Fletcher Assistant Manager: Darrel Gyngell Coaches: Vince Purdue, Danny Gyngell and David Fletcher Physio: Gary Strudwick
Wiltshire: Adam House (Pulse Academy), Eddie Swain , Jim Ward (Salisbury City FC), Zak Mitchell (Pulse Academy), Dan Watts (Melksham Town/Pulse Academy), Harry Rutty (c) (Salisbury City FC/Pulse Academy), Ashley Alchin (Chippenham FC), Owen Pearce (Melksham Town FC), Harvey Flippance (Lydiard Millicent U16 FC), Ronan Clancy (Salisbury City FC), Serkan Killic (Pulse Academy).
Substitutes: Jack Sterling (Pulse Academy), Caine Bradbury (Pulse Academy), Joshua Sommerton (Salisbury City FC)
Not used: Joel Smedley
Manager: Joe Sharples Coach: Barry Holloway Physio: Martyn Penny
Referee: Martin Cannon Assistants: Simon Wainwright and Johnny Singer