Sussex 1-2 Middlesex

South East England Schools’ FA LC Hill Trophy, 12th November 2016

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After a disappointing home defeat last week against Essex in the English Schools’ FA Inter County Trophy, Middlesex were looking to bounce back. They did so with an impressive display against an experienced and well organised Sussex side at Steyning Town FC.

Middlesex opened the scoring in the 20th minute through a well taken goal from Ali Alanezi after a fine move down the left flank. Sussex drew level from the spot on the stroke of half-time after Briggs was adjudged to be brought down inside the Middlesex box. The hosts’ player picked himself up to calmly slot home the spot kick to send both teams in level at the break.

Emre Top, who struck the bar in the first half from a free-kick, had another opportunity from a similar position early in the second half. His quick thinking and thunderbolt strike caught the Sussex stopper off guard, restoring Middlesex’s lead and scoring what turned out to be the winner.

Middlesex made three changes from last week’s starting eleven with Joe Ringer coming in for the rested Josh Beirne in goal, Samurai Evans slotting in at centre back for the unwell Sokol Rexhaj and Kyle Matthew replacing Cai Burrows, who was injured.

The end result might have not have been predicted at the start of the match. The early stages saw Sussex enjoy the majority of the possession and creatE several chances. The visitors were struggling to get to grips with their new 3-5-2 formation when Sussex broke the offside trap, a long ball split the Middlesex defence but ‘keeper Joe Ringer anticipated the danger and met the ball at the edge of his box with a huge clearance into the grandstand.

The towering presence of Samurai Evans and David Oppong-Wiafe at the heart of the defence made several interceptions and well timed tackles in the first quarter. Once the game had settled down, Middlesex started to get the ball down and play some exciting football with the majority of the play coming down the left hand side with Keith Taziwa and Kyle Matthews linking up well.

Middlesex were gaining in confidence and looking more threatening on the ball. Middlesex’s first chance came on 15 minutes when Emre Top found Ali Alanezi’s feet from an acute angle. Alanezi threaded a ball through to the advancing Taziwa who shot narrowly wide. From the resulting goal kick Middlesex regained possession. Middlesex were now stroking the ball around at ease and forcing Sussex to make errors in threatening positions. Top seeing his free-kick tipped on to the bar by the Sussex stopper.

The game was just missing a goal and on 20 minutes another fine move down the left saw Alanezi through on goal who guided the ball over the keeper to open his account for the season.

 A minute before half time a mix up in the Middlesex defence saw the referee award Sussex the penalty which Briggs score to ensure the scores were level at the break.

Middlesex wasted no time in the second half. A pinpoint pass from right back Morgan Whittick allowed Isaiash Carrington to counter attack; Carrington cut inside and linked up with the central midfield duo of Guerin Nimi and Tashae Gibbons, the latter being fouled in a central position 30yards out. Top had no hesitation in taking control of the situation and smashed the ball in the top right hand corner of the Sussex goal, much to the delight of his watching parents.

Middlesex held onto their lead to secure a thoroughly deserved victory brought about by a combination of working hard for each other and quality on the ball when it counted.

Man of the Match: Emre Top

Middlesex coach Scott Harneiss commented “The boys where absolutely fantastic today. They were a credit to themselves; they gave a lot for each other today. Everything that we discussed before the game, the boys achieved. The most pleasing thing for me was we were under a lot of pressure in the first 10 or so minutes, they battled through that and took hold of the game”

Squad: Ali Alanezi (London Academy), Charlie Quinnell (Douay Martyrs), David Oppong-Wiafe (Greenford), Emre Top (Oasis Academy), Gareth Balakomoso (St Gregory’s), Guerin Nimi (Gunnersbury), Isaiah Carrington (Queensmead), Josh Beirne (Rivers Academy), Joe Ringer (Harefield), Keith Taziwa (Lampton), Kyle Mathews (Wembley), Morgan Whittick (St James’), Naradine Hashi (Bishopshalt), Samurai Evans (St Mark’s), Simeon Olarerin (Vyners),  Tashae Gibbons (Featherstone High School),  Wichtor Wachala (Ark Academy).