Essex Under 16's 2-2 Amateur FA Under 16's
SOUTH EAST COUNTIES CHAMPIONSHIP
Referee - Mr. R. Pinchback
Assistant Referees - Mr. O. Walker & Mr.S. Seago
The Amateur FA made its first visit to the excellent facilities at the new Aveley FC ground on Sunday and came away with a draw from a game we felt we could and probably should have won.
We started the game well and, with Josh Gunter and Tomiwa Oni prominent up front on the left and in the centre respectively, were causing Essex plenty of problems.
However, in the 8th minute and against the run of play, Essex scored. Their first attack had finished with a shot easily saved by Ricardo Pacheco, but a poor clearance went straight to an opponent who fed the ball through to Ainsworth and he slotted home from the edge of the area.
The AFA responded well and Lewis Horn-Haynes won the ball in midfield and put Gunter through with a superb pass but the Essex keeper, Ballard, just got to the ball first. Essex then thought that they had a second when they capitalised on a mistake but the goal was, rightfully, disallowed for offside.
Essex then had Ballard to thank for twice thwarting AFA attacks involving Gunter and Oni. However his mistake in handling outside his area almost proved costly with a freekick awarded. This resultant free kick was high and wide. He did redeem himself though with 2 more saves to deny the AFA, although it is fair to say that we should have made more of the dominance we had and chances created.
In the 32nd minute Gunter twisted an ankle, which necessitated his departure from the match. This was unfortunate as he had been a real danger down the left and given the Essex right back a torrid time. His replacement, Michael Zuckowski, played well but was more central and our attacks became more narrow.
Essex took advantage of the upheaval to come more into the game and good work by Pacheco in the AFA goal, particularly in clawing away a header to the top corner in injury time, kept the deficit down to one at the break.
At the start of the second half Finn Rushton replaced the excellent Pacheco and Maddy Dumitru came on for Charlie Powell.
The AFA again started well and almost equalised after a good run through the middle by Aden Brazil, but his shot was too high.
Tommy Jeffery then replaced Rayon Atkinson.
Essex were then on top as the AFA reorganised but, as in the first half, a goal then came against the run of play on 52 minutes. A good run by Horn-Haynes was finished with a shot which deflected to Oni and he slid a shot into the net.
This lifted the AFA and greater efforts were exerted. Just 4 minutes later, good pressure from Zuckowski forced an Essex error on their right. He cut inside his defender and hit a stinging shot across goal. The ball hit the far post and rebounded to Horn-Haynes on the edge of the penalty area and he drove home to make it 2-1 to the visitors.
Harry Smith replaced Oni.
The game was then fairly even but, as the players tired on a sapping pitch, the error count increased with too many passes going astray and players maybe trying too hard to find the killer ball rather than the safe option. Ewen Bland was prominent in the AFA defence.
Essex pushed into the game again and equalised on 64 minutes when, from a free kick out on the left, Henry was allowed a late run unopposed to the back post to head home.
Both sides had one more clear chance with firstly Rushton making a good low save to thwart a good run and shot from Hatcher, then, in the last minute a good AFA move finished with a shot wide.
So, in the end, a slightly disappointing result given the opportunities in the first half but great credit to our players for their resilience in overcoming the first half deficit.
1. Ricardo Pacheco
2. Charlie Powell
3. Fabio Carlino
4. Ewen Bland
5. Finn Conway
6. Rayon Atkinson
7. Josh Gunter
8. Aden Brazil
9. Tomiwa Oni
10. Joshua Asiedu
11. Lewis Horn-Haynes
12. Finn Rushton
14. Michael Zuckowski
15. Tommy Jeffery
16. Harry Smith
17. Maddy Dumitru.
Manager - Gary Harrowell
Physio - Jameel Shah