An excellent AFA performance resulted in a deserved win against a Kent side that had won their previous three games in the competition.
Amateur FA started the game well and had a couple of half chances that went close before almost taking the lead in the 13th minute. Jo Leslie blocked a clearance from the Kent keeper which went wide. From the resultant goal kick, Alton Aldin won the ball and only a last ditch tackle prevented him from scoring.
Kent resorted to hitting long through balls, thus bypassing midfield, in an attempt to unsettle the AFA defence. This tactic didn’t prove successful but their left winger looked dangerous when given time on the ball.
They did, however, cause a few problems and Cameron McAdam made an important interception on the six yard line. ‘Keeper Jake Bell, who had a fine game, made an excellent save, turning a shot away for a corner and Kieron Ali, who also had a very good game, thwarted another attack.
However, the first half was dominated by the AFA, with Harry Shepherd prominent, and only some last ditch Kent tackling and some good saves by their ‘keeper kept them out. Although the ‘keeper also dropped a cross and was fortunate to see the loose ball hooked over the bar.
The half-time whistle went with the game goalless and AFA supporters fearing that not going ahead whilst on top may come back to bite them.
These doubts increased as Kent started the second half much better but without putting serious pressure on the AFA goal. Jo Leslie was proving an excellent outlet for the AFA down the left and 10 minutes into the half his great run ended with a shot that went just wide.
This lifted AFA and they deservedly went ahead two minutes later when Legai Henriques got the ball on the edge of the penalty area and clipped a shot over the keeper into the far corner of the net.
Amateur FA were now well on top, although Kent were almost let in following an AFA mistake but were rescued by a great defensive block.
The game was now becoming more stretched as the players understandably tired on a stamina sapping surface.
AFA kept looking for a second and it almost came after 69 minutes when good approach play by Ali led to substitute Harry Smith shooting just wide. However, Smith would not be denied for long.
In the next minute Leslie made a superb run down the left, cut inside and shot; the keeper saved but Leslie got back on the ball at the byline and lobbed to the far post where Smith was on hand to head home.
The game was now safe, although AFA had one scare three minutes in to injury time when a misunderstanding between Bell and one of his defenders resulted in the ball being spilled, but Bell redeemed himself with a good save and ensure his clean-sheet.
Overall, it was an excellent performance and great credit should go to all the players, and also to the management team of Gary Harrowell and Gary Casey who had been faced with dropouts on the morning of the game and still put out an excellent team.
Mike Brown, AFA Chief Executive Officer, said: “Representative Football is an important part of AFA football for both the Seniors and more recently at U18 and U16 level. It provides an opportunity for players to test themselves against quality opposition and return to their clubs all the better.”
Upcoming Representative Matches
Wednesday 1 March: Seniors Home v Royal Navy, Corinthian Casuals. (KO: 7.30pm)
Sunday 5 March: U16s Home v Middlesex FA, Colney Heath FC. (KO: 1.00pm)