Amateur FA 1-0 Oxford University
Wednesday 3 October 2018 (7:45pm KO)
On an excellent evening for both playing and watching football, a new-look AFA side opened the new season against Oxford University on a lush Uxbridge pitch.
Oxford started strongly and forced a corner in the second minute and it took a couple of good reaction saves from Henry Warne, in the AFA goal, to keep them out.
Encouraged by this, the home side steadily took control and began bossing the match. Despite this command of the game, the AFA could not get the goal their approach play deserved. They went close on three occasions in the first half hour but the Oxford ‘keeper saved from Ahmed Doukhi and Owen Bradley - and Ali El-Nashi was just wide.
The AFA were playing the better football, with wingers El-Nashi and Doukhi prominent and showing good passing from midfield, but at times let themselves down with poor finishing or a loss of possession. Oxford were more reliant on the counter attack and using longer passes to their frontmen, but were very energetic and quick to close down play when they were out of possession.
Indeed this harassment won them the ball on the half hour and it took an excellent last-ditch tackle from Kofi Gay and then a low save by Warne to keep them out. However, this was a somewhat isolated incident at this end and the AFA soon regained control.
Following some good ball control, a fierce shot from Doukhi was only kept out by a fingertip save from the Oxford ‘keeper.
It only seemed a matter of time before the deadlock broke, and this happened in the 41st minute when a piercing run down the right by El-Nashi to the goal line was followed by an adroit pull-back to the incoming Darren Tinnelly, who slammed the ball into the far corner to cap a fine half and give the AFA a deserved lead at the break.
Oxford started the second half as they had the first and an early dangerous attack was thwarted by a fine tackle by Doukhi covering back. The visitors were obviously determined to display their fitness and they never let up in their efforts and enthusiasm to draw level.
The AFA introduced their substitutes during the first 15 minutes of the half and this may have contributed to Oxford getting more chances. A free-kick was well cleared by Warne in a crowded goalmouth on 59 minutes and shortly after he had to save low down to keep Oxford at bay.
The match was now a very even and competitive one but played in an excellent spirit and very well refereed by Mr. Hayden and his assistants. The pace was fast and the tackling strong but fair from both sides and both sides had opportunities, though not clear cut. A spanking long range effort from Andrew Folan was on target until a deflection sent it wide and then with two minutes left, Oxford lifted the ball into a crowded penalty box but Warne dived among the flying feet to hold on and save.
A good start to the season from the AFA with some strong performances from their ‘keeper, centre halves, midfield and wingers. We now await the result of the Middlesex v Army match to see who we will play in the Southern Counties Championship later in the season.
23. Henry Warne (Dorkinians)
2. Scott Ensom (Actonians)
3. Ollie Mongul (Polytechnic)
4. Paul Bogle-Fearon (Allen Old Boys)
5. Kofi Gay (Actonians)
6. Aiden Chapman (Old Meadonians)
7. Ahmed Doukhi (Actonians)
8. Darren Tinnelly (Polytechnic)
9. Ben Slade (Alleyn Old Boys)
10. Owen Bradley (Alleyn Old Boys)
11. Ali El-Nashi (Actonians)
12. Ashley Andrews (Actonians)
14. Andrew Folan (Old Owens)
15. Daryl Swaby (Alleyn Old Boys)
Manager: Bob Leeds
Asst. Manager: Pat Folan
Referee: Mr. M. Hayden
Asst. Referees: Mr. R. Poole & Mr. J. Spoerry