The County Under-14 Representative Team secured their first win of the season, with a well deserved home win against West Midlands in the English Schools’ FA Inter-County Trophy.
The first half was a close affair, with some hard challenges early in the game setting the tone for the first half. Chances were few and far between, but Middlesex were in control of the ball and were winning many of the 50 / 50 balls.
Dylan Singh and Dominic Thompson formed a strong combination on the left flank and caused West Midlands defence some problems. On the opposite wing, Leandro Riberio was also testing the visitors with some skilful and powerful runs to the by-line, whipping in some dangerous balls across the face of goal but to no avail.
West Midlands were looking to play the ball over the Middlesex defence and Joshua Bennai and Zayn Daniel were coping well following a nervous start with some brave defensive headers, limiting the West Midlands attack to few opportunities.
In the centre of midfield, Stephen Cairns and Henry Histon broke up play and were positive when they won possession, getting the ball forward quickly into Kraig McLeod and Harry Russell, but success was limited and the first half finished goalless.
Middlesex were fast out of the blocks in the second half and scored immediately from the restart. The ball was played back to Cairns, who sprayed a diagonal ball over to the right hand side where Riberio controlled and attacked the left back. With power and precision Riberio got to the by-line and swung in a delightful cross for Russell to head home with an accomplished finish to give Middlesex the lead.
The early goal gave Middlesex great belief and the momentum to push for a second. The ball out wide to Riberio was causing continuous problems for West Midlands and it soon paid off when Riberio picked up the ball again after a superb pass from Cairns. Riberio beat the defender by dropping his shoulder, using his speed to get another cross into the box which was again met by Russell who controlled the ball in the 6 yard box and slotted the ball home under pressure.
West Midlands reacted well and tried to find a way back into the match but this gave Middlesex the opportunity to hit them on the break and on a couple of occasions McLeod was brought down on the edge of the box. From one of the resultant free-kicks, McLeod hit the crossbar with a curling effort which would have sealed victory.
The visitors continued to battle hard and their desire to reduce the arrears occasionally spilled over and the referee had to maintain a grip on proceedings.
The game was finally put to bed when man of the match Riberio took the ball out wide again, this time he cut inside the left back and curled the ball over the keeper with a good left foot finish.
This was a performance that the boys can be very proud of and will give them confidence for the rest of the season.
Squad: Dylan Hickman Singh, Dominic Thompson, Sharmake Muse (Queens Park Community College), James Harpin Harry Russell, Jordon Green, (JFS), Joshua Bennai , Steven Cairns (Gunnersbury Catholic School), Henry Histon, Anthony Williams, (Finchley Catholic High School), Leandro Ribeiro (Salvatorian College), Zayn Botchway Daniel (Acton High School), Kraig McLeod (Kingsbury High School).