U16s Suffer Delay & Defeat In SECYC Match
Sunday 31st March 2019, KO 2pm
Mayfield Stadium, AFC Croydon Athletic
With kick-off delayed for around 25 minutes, after a lengthy journey from north London to Croydon saw the U16 squad arrive at around the originally scheduled KO time, and having negotiated a long walk through brambles and a wooded area on an unplanned walking detour to the stadium, things went from bad to worse for Josh Gunter who suffered a ball to the face after just 7 minutes and was substituted. Many thanks to London's physio, Dennis Laughton, for his assistance in looking after Josh.
With only restricted pre-match preparation, this incident turned a thus far evenly-matched encounter into virtual one-way traffic for the rest of a difficult first half for the AFA U16s. After a smart save from Ricardo Pacheco in the AFA goal, who thwarted a close range London effort after 15 minutes, there was nothing he could do to prevent London taking the lead a couple of minutes later. A rasping, 25-yard free-kick from Georgi Steeds flew past the wall and into the corner.
The AFA quickly created a chance to equalise though, with a long ball setting Michael Zakowski through on goal. Unfortunately, with support on either side, his finish was rushed and hit tamely at the London keeper.
Five minutes later, London capitalised on their let-off when Marcus Sablier touched home at the far post after a clever ball across the 6-yard box took all the AFA defenders and goalkeeper out of the play.
London were building pressure and another attack on the half-hour produced their 3rd goal. This time, more disorganised AFA defending saw Treyel Gordon produce a tidy finish from 12 yards.
Immediately after the 3rd goal, things could have been even worse for the AFA, as Sablier sent a shot inches wide of Pacheco's right-hand post.
With a few minutes left in the half, the AFA rallied and a driving 30-yard run by Aden Brazil saw him let loose a shot from 20-yards, which was pushed away by Luis Martinez in the London goal. The AFA kept the ball around the London goal but were denied a route back into the match as a lovely far-post header from a deep corner was ruled out by the eagle-eyed referee, Karl Parker, for a push.
HT: London U16s 3-0 AFA U16s
The first notable action of the second half saw another London free-kick whistle past the post, although prior to that, the AFA had already had a couple of pieces of good possession inside the London penalty area without managing to get a shot away on either occasion.
On 53 minutes, another long ball turned the London defence but the London keeper Martinez made good ground outside his area to reach the ball first & headed it away from the advancing AFA forward line. It dropped to Lewis Horne-Hayes. Thinking quickly, he managed to loop the ball with a left-foot volley from all of 35 yards over the keeper & covering defender. It was on target all the way and a tremendous piece of vision. However, Horne-Hayes hadn't accounted for the dry surface and the ball bounced around the 6-yard line, clipped the crossbar & went unceremoniously behind for a goal-kick. Possibly the best incident of skill in the whole game resulted, rather unjustly, in a London goal-kick.
With a quarter of an hour left, a London far-post corner was met by London's #10 with a solid header which squirmed under the AFA keeper's body and just over the line for London’s 4th.
Then came another Horne-Hayes versus Martinez duel with another lovely effort from 25 yards which had the London keeper worried but flew just over the angle of post & crossbar.
The first yellow card arrived with 8 minutes to go and was awarded to LON #14 for handling the ball whilst on the ground, after winning a tough tackle to prevent Zakowski running through on goal. Brazil’s resulting free-kick was blocked, but came back to him and he then sent a decent low shot just wide.
With a couple of minutes left, the AFA finally got the consolation goal their 2nd half performance warranted, when Ewan Bland nodded home with a clever header past the Martinez, after a corner wasn’t dealt with by the London defence.
On the whole, it was an enjoyable match to watch but left everyone on the AFA side wondering what may have been if the preparation & team hadn't been affected by both the transport issues and the early substitution of Josh Gunter. Without doubt though, London deserved the win and, across the whole match, were the better team on the day.
The U16's final match of the season will take place on Sunday 28th April against Sussex FA U16s at Colney Heath FC, KO 1pm.