An overcast day was lit up with 4 goals for AMateur FA to secure win away at middlesex
In their first match of the season our under 16’s demonstrated that they were completely at home on the artificial pitch and stroked the ball around in defence and midfield from the first whistle, playing neat, tidy football and playing probing passes to the strong running forwards. They did not allow their opponents to settle and gave them no time or space on the ball.
It was, therefore, no surprise that the AFA were ahead after 5 minutes. Good build up play had supplied the ball to Max Frangiamore in the inside left position and his stinging shot was clawed away from the top corner by Middlesex keeper, St. Paul. The resultant corner to the back post was headed across goal where Ben Ssongo was on hand to convert.
This setback obviously stung Middlesex and they attacked immediately from the kick off. Some mishandling by AFA keeper Dan Weaver gave an opportunity to the opposing center forward, Bala, but Dan redeemed himself with a very good save to turn the shot away for a corner.
The game then settled down and became more even, with Middlesex more prominent down their right through Rouas & Araujo, who were giving Dylan Hodge-Barnett a difficult time at left-back. However, try as they might, they could not fashion any clear cut chances and the spine of the AFA team always ensured they had every situation under control. Weaver was organising well with Freddie Griffiths & Ikenna Nwosu dominant at the back, Zak Bradshaw & Efezino Owhe hard working and creative in midfield and Frangiamore & Ssengo causing lots of problems upfront. The combinations between the various parts of the team was most enjoyable to watch.
Midway through the half all this came together and culminated in an excellent lofted through pass from Owhe finding Ssengo running on goal with his opposing central defender. He got to the ball first and, as St. Paul advanced, sensing the danger, Ben lobbed the ball over him into the net. An excellent finish.
The game continued with the AFA dominant and occasional attacks from Middlesex which came to nothing either because the final ball was lacking or AFA defenders intercepted.
A minute before half time Middlesex fashioned a chance but Bala shot straight at Dan Weaver when well placed. AFA responded with another incisive attack which came to Frangiamore on the goal line out left and he intelligently pulled the ball back to the supporting Bradshaw to slot home.
Middlesex tried once more just before the break but Bala, who was having no luck, shot just wide of the far post.
The second half started in the same way as the first, with no let up in the AFA pressure. 5 minutes after the resumption good play by substitute, Alexander Pace, put Harrison Holding through but he was slightly held on the referee’s blind side as he went through and the chance was lost.
A few minutes later the AFA defenders got in a bit of a muddle in their box in trying to scramble the ball clear, it fell to Bala but he blazed wide.
Hodge-Barnett was now on top of dangerous right winger Araujo and eventually he switched wings, where he had no luck either against Stefanos Georgiou, who was also getting forward to great effect and one excellent run finished with a shot saved by St. Paul. Shortly after Frankie Pinion got on the end of another good AFA move but shot just wide.
The half continued with constant AFA pressure, a shot from Owhe was saved by St. Paul, who then tipped over an effort from Tom Barrett. This was followed by Frangiamore having a shot deflected for a corner after cutting in from the left, whilst the only Middlesex reply was a weak overhead kick from a free kick which was easily gathered by Weaver.
With 10 minutes left St. Paul was adjudged to have fouled Bradshaw in the box and Ben Ssengo neatly slotted the resultant penalty into the far corner to complete his hat trick. This was nearly added to soon after when good interplay involving Frangiamore & Ssengo led to a shot from Pinion being diverted for a corner.
Middlesex responded and got some consolation when Holding, unluckily, handled the ball on the floor as he slid in. Doherty took the Middlesex penalty but he was denied by a good save by Weaver to his left and the follow up was fired over the bar.
In the last few minutes Owhe was close a couple of times flowing good work from Pinion & Frangiamore with shots just over and wide whilst a Middlesex free kick was headed over the bar by Major.
This brought to a close as good a first game performance as many could remember. The match contained excellent football from both sides and the difference was the AFA dominance in both penalty boxes. It was excellently officiated by Steve Hart and his team and, as ever, Middlesex FA were very welcoming hosts. All in all a most enjoyable afternoon.
Dan Weaver; Stefanos Georgiou, Freddie Griffiths, Ikenna Nwosu, Dylan Hodge-Barnett; Harrison Holding, Zak Bradshaw, Efezeno Owhe, Tom Barrett; Ben Ssengo, Max Frangiamore. Substitutes- Alexander Pace, Arlie Baker, Frankie Pinion
Manager - Gary Harrowell
Coach - Gary Casey
Physio - Jameel Shah
Referee - Steve Hart
Assistant Refereees - Adrian West & Daniel Harvey