SOUTH EAST COUNTIES YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP
AMATEUR FA U16's v KENT FA U16's
SUNDAY 24th FEBRUARY 2019
COLNEY HEATH FC KO 13.00
ANOTHER AFA FIGHT BACK FALLS SHORT
On a sunny springlike afternoon our Under 16's lost their unbeaten record this season to a good Kent FA side. A somewhat sloppy first half gave the players a mountain to climb which they were unable to do despite a huge improvement after the break. This was the third time in as many matches that an AFA side has almost recovered a deficit after similar fates befell our Senior team v Army and Under 18's at Middlesex.
The fast drying pitch was in good condition but the surface somewhat uneven making travelling with the ball difficult and the players needing great care with their passing and control. Kent started the match strongly and forced 2 corners in as many minutes with their left winger, Sithole, and left midfield player, Iandolo, prominent and causing great problem to Charlie Powell the AFA right back. These attacks down the AFA right continued and were only repelled by last ditch clearances.
It was therefore no surprise when Kent took the lead in the 9th minute through Sithole. However this time he had drifted inside when a long through ball found AFA keeper Finn Rushton in two minds whether to come out or stay back. The end result saw him in no man's land as Sithole flicked the ball over his head into the empty net. Rushton had only stepped into the team at the last minute as regular keeper, Ricardo Pacheco, succumbed to injury and he probably had not had the chance to settle after Kent's fast start.
Despite this setback the AFA heads did not go down and they fought their way back into the game which was now quite even. They were able to create some half chances but couldn't capitalise on them or were let down by the final pass. Kent were consistently harrying possession and looking to use Sithole on the left but Powell was growing to the task of controlling him and the contest between them was gradually being won by the full back, who worked out what he needed to do and led to Kent looking for other options on the pitch.
Then, just as it looked as though the AFA would reach the half time break only one down, good interplay between Kent's Turner and Nikaj finished with a Turner pass putting centre forward Nikaj through and, as Rushton advanced to narrow the angle, he knocked the ball to his left and though Rushton got a touch he could not prevent it rolling into the net to increase the Kent lead and deliver a real body blow to the AFA.
At the start of the second half Kieron Lake-Bryan came on at right back and Powell moved into midfield, where his effectiveness in the match continued to grow.
The AFA responded well to the half time message from the management and started to dominate with Lewis Horn-Hayes very prominent down our left side. Just 3 minutes into the half good interplay in midfield between Powell and Aden Brazil finished with the latter's shot going just wide. The game was now opening up with both sides having periods of dominance. Rushton had now settled into his game and on 51 minutes he made a very good double save to keep out a shot from substitute Edmundsen and a second as he regained possession.
This proved vital and with 20 minutes left the AFA got back in the game. Just after the Kent centre half, Sargent, had headed wide the AFA went on the attack and forced a corner on the left. The cross deceived the Kent keeper, McLeish, and Joshua Asiedu was on hand to score from close in.
Kent came back and Rushton again distinguished himself first by rapidly closing down an advancing Kent forward to prevent a clear shot and then with a good low save to his right to keep AFA in the game. However, try as they might we could not find an equaliser and had to settle for only a much better second half to take from the game.
We now need to win both our last 2 games v London (away 31/03/19) and Sussex (Colney Heath 28/04/19) to have any chance of retaking our title.
Manager- Gary Harrowell
Coach - Gary Casey
Physio - Jameel Shah
Referee - Jason Kilby
Assistant Referees - Terry Barnes & Derrick Coe