The Middlesex Schools’ FA Under-14 representative squad played their last league game of the season against Buckinghamshire on Saturday 8th March 2014 at Whitmore High School and put in one of their best performances of the campaign, writes Kim James.
The first half was a high quality match, with both teams passing with good intensity and battling for each tackle and header. Middlesex began to create chances, with Kraig McLeod and Stephen Cairns starting to dominate the mid-field. With their pace, power and technique, both began to influence the game, getting the ball wide to a lively Leandro Riberio who was working the left flank superbly, with Dylan Singh joining in with some surging overlapping runs.
On the right hand side, Shaquille Ishmael was able to beat the defender on a couple of occasions and whip in some dangerous crosses for the lone striker Harry Russell. Bilal Ahmadzai, playing just behind the striker, was also getting himself involved in everything Middlesex did, driving at the Bucks defence on many occasions and looking dangerous every time he did so.
Midway through the first half, Stephen Cairns whipped in a dangerous free kick, about 30 yards out, just left of the box, which was met by Ahmadzai with a glancing header to put Middlesex 1-0 up.
The Middlesex defence was up against a very strong and quick front three from Buckinghamshire, but met the challenge head on, with Jordan Green and Kelvin Osborne putting in their best performances of the season. They were reading the game and making fantastic interceptions, limiting the Buckinghamshire front line to few opportunities in the first half.
Half time: Middlesex 1-0 Buckinghamshire
The second half followed a similar pattern, with Middlesex and Buckinghamshire both performing to a very high standard. Zayn Botchway, a second half substitute for Sharmarke Muse, who had also had a very solid first half, rose for a header but had his hands over the Bucks forward and a foul was given in exactly the same spot where Middlesex’s goal had came from.
The Bucks winger, curled in a powerful right footed effort which had the wind behind it and lefy James Harpin stranded to make the score 1-1.
In typical fashion, Middlesex responded with great desire and enthusiasm, with McLeod and Cairns showing great poise in the way they went about gaining control of the ball.
Joshua Bennai, who came on for Harry Russell up front, was causing the Bucks defence all sorts of problems, hustling and harrying every ball, but showing great pace and power when the ball was fed into him creating a couple of good chances that should have given Middlesex the lead.
The pressure finally paid off, 10 minutes from time, when Dylan Singh now playing right back, joined in high up the pitch, delivered a inch perfect cross for Bennai to score a well deserved header to give Middlesex a 2-1 lead.
Middlesex went on to see the game out and finished the season with a well deserved home win.
Full time: Middlesex 2-1 Buckinghamshire
This was a performance that the boys can be very proud of and will give them confidence going into their ESFA Inter-County Trophy semi-final on Wednesday 12th March.
Middlesex: James Harpin, Harry Russell, Jordon Green, (JFS) Joshua Bennai , Steven Cairns (Gunnerbury Catholic School), Anthony Williams (Finchley Catholic High School), Leandro Ribeiro (Salvatorian College), Zayn Botchway Daniel (Acton High School), Kraig McLeod (Kingsbury High School), Shaquille Ishmeal (Ark Academy), Calvin Osbourne (Claremont High School), Dylan Singh (Queens Park Community School), Bilal Ahmadzai (Capital City Academy), Alex Hadjithemistou (East Barnet School), Sharmarke Muse (Queen’s Park)