Middlesex 1-4 Essex

English Schools’ FA Inter-County Trophy, 5th November 2016

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Middlesex bowed out of the English Schools’ FA’s national competition, although the eventual score line did not reflect a close and exciting game against a strong Essex team. Middlesex started brightly and had the upper hand in the early exchanges. The four players making their debut in the starting line-up – Sokol Rexhaj, Keith Taziwa, Tashae Gibbons and Isaiah  Carrington –  all settled in quickly and Middlesex’s superior passing was rewarded after 10 minutes when skipper Guerin Nimi burst through the Essex defense making a neat pass to set up striker James Bromley-Price to blast the ball home.

Essex fought hard to get the equalizer and after 20 minutes breached the Middlesex defense only for Middlesex Man of the Match Rexhaj to make a superb tackle to deny them.

The home side had largely controlled possession but against the run of play Essex scored directly from a corner with the wind being a factor and the first half ended with the score level at 1-1.

The second half started at a high tempo with both teams pushing for the vital second goal. Carrington was causing the visitors problems, particularly combining with Taziwa down the left while Morgan Whittick and Cai Burrows linked up well when attacking down the right . David Oppong-Wiafe forged a solid  partnership with Rexhaj at the heart of the Middlesex defense.      

Midway through the second half, Ali Alanezi burst through but was pulled down just outside the box and Middlesex could not convert the free kick.

The hosts made changes, giving Emre Top his debut. Top’s speed and dribbling made an impact but although Middlesex had the upper hand for large periods could not get the all-important goal.

Charlie Quinnell was brought on in midfield as Middlesex piled on the pressure but with 5 minutes to go and extra time looming Essex counter attacked and broke the deadlock to go ahead.

It was a bitter blow for Middlesex who had dominated the game in large spells and  they charged forward looking for the equalizer. With 2 minutes remaining the Essex keeper  made a superb save diving at full length to tip the ball over the bar and deny Middlesex an equalizer. Middlesex continued to attack but Essex capitalized and scored two late goals to secure a 4-1 win.

Middlesex coach Chris Ampofo commented: “This is a talented group of players with a great team spirit. They work hard for each other and can all be proud of their contribution today. A few more shots on goal will make a difference. Results will come. Good luck to Essex in the next round.”

Middlesex face Sussex away next on Saturday 12 November and then Hampshire at home at Brunel University on 19 November.

Squad: Ali Alanezi (London Academy), Ben Sullivan (Harefield), Cai Burrows (St Gregory’s), Charlie Quinnell (Douay Martyrs), David Oppong-Wiafe (Greenford), Emre Top, (Oasis Academy), Guerin Nimi (Gunnersbury), Isaiah Carrington (Queensmead), James Bromley-Price (Bishop Ramsey), Josh Beirne (Rivers Academy), Joe Ringer (Harefield), Keith Taziwa (Lampton), Michael O’Neil (Bishopshalt), Morgan Whittick (St James’), Sokol Rexhaj (Aylward Academy), Tashae Gibbons (Hounslow).