An excellent match played on a superb pitch on a cold autumn night saw a very good performance from the Amateur FA, but that was not enough as Army FA scored a late goal to go through to the final of the Southern Counties Cup.
This keenly contested fixture was preceded by a minutes silence for former Life President of the AFA, Trevor Syms, who sadly passed away last month.
It did not take the AFA long to get in their stride when, in the 3rd minute, a long ball out of defence from Richard Parker found Chris Heritage sprinting down the left wing. The Army ‘keeper and a defender came out to shut him down but got in a mess and Heritage capitalised to slot the ball home and put the AFA ahead.
The Army came back well and the whole of the first half was very competitive and end to end with both sides seeking to capitalise on the speed of their forwards.
It was the Army, however, who had the clearest chances but were held at bay by strong defending from Anthony Beddows and Tim Dorgu in the centre of the AFA defence and good goalkeeping from Henry Warne and some wayward finishing.
After 26 minutes they got their reward when they fed their speedy left winger and he touched the ball inside to his centre forward, who was fouled in the penalty area. He it was who then drove the resultant spot kick down the middle to equalise.
The AFA responded and good work by Peter Eguae set up Ben Slade, whose shot was half saved and cleared off the line. Then a corner was headed just wide. In keeping with the match trend, the Army came back and the half finished with two good chances that were wasted with poor finishing though Warne was quick off his line to gather the second after a poor touch.
The second half started with the AFA pressing and a sweeping move on 54 minutes ended with a cross shot from Rhys Watling, who had replaced Slade, hitting a cross shot which was deflected for a corner. Beddows got his head to the kick but the Army keeper managed to tip it over the bar.
The Army came back with a chance which came to nothing before an AFA half chance got away and Heritage drove wide from another.
By now Eguae had gone off with what looked like a hamstring injury and the loss of his pace was sorely missed by the AFA. The better chances were now coming the way of the Army but good work by Warne and Parker kept them at bay. Their centre forward thought he had put them ahead on 77 minutes but he was flagged offside.
The competitiveness of the match continued and the AFA seemed to be marginally on top but then conceded an unnecessary corner in the 89th minute. The cross went right across the face of goal to the far side where the Army centre-half got his body shape right as he met the ball and lashed it home.
Despite the lateness of this goal the AFA did not give up and in the second minute of added time were denied an equaliser by a block from the Army ‘keeper.
So finished an excellent match, well refereed by Peter Georgiou, and great credit goes to all players for their skill and commitment. The AFA exit the competition but do so holding their heads high.
AFA Manager, Bob Leeds, said: “We had a great start, but it was a very even game. The loss of Eguae hit us hard as he was on fire.”
1. Henry Warne (Dorkingians)
2. Conor Mitchell (Old Foresters)
3. Richard Parker (Nottsborough)
4. Sam Baring (Old Etonians)
5. Anthony Beddows (Old Carthusians)
6. Tim Dorgu (Old Parmiterians)
7. Ben Slade (Actonians)
8. Chris Drakeford-Lewis (Old Carthusians)
9. Tom Kelly (Old Salopians)
10. Peter Eguae (Old Owens)
11. Chris Heritage (Old Hamptonians)
12. Aidan Chapman (Old Meadonians)
14. Rhys Watling (Bank of England)
15. Tim Downey (Old Carthusians)
Manager - Bob Leeds
Coach - Pat Folan
Physio - Jamel Shah
Referee - Mr. P. Georgiou
Assistants - Mr. L. Kasturatni & Mr. A. Nayir