Under-18s Representative Squad were dumped out of The FA County Youth Cup after a 2nd Round home defeat at the hands of the Essex County FA.
Prior to kick-off a minutes silence was held in memory of Sussex County FA Chairman, Peter Bentley, who sadly passed away recently.
Essex started the brighter of the two sides with their strike-force of Owen Edobor and Yeshaya Lomotey looking lively in front of the Sussex back four. However the Sussex midfield pairing, Harvey Sparks and Johan van Driel, showed some nice link up play early on.
Essex striker Lomotey was repeatedly frustrated in the first 30minutes as the Sussex defence, well organised by Steven James and Clyde Jacques in the middle, kept a fantastic line to catch the striker offside on several occasions. Full-back Dale Hayes was also winning numerous aerial battles to help keep Essex at bay.
On 23minutes the first meaningful chance fell to Essex’s Sean Clare who's shot was well blocked by James, with Sussex goalkeeper, Joe Walker, gathering the ricochet. Minutes later Lomotey saw a shot fly narrowly over the crossbar from just in-side the penalty area.
Sussex’s biggest threat looked to come from Bright Temba on the right hand side of midfield, his pace on the break was a constant danger to the Essex defence, and his shot, on 29minutes, looked to be heading on target but for a block by Essex defender James Shadwell. Sussex skipper Joe Gromett also had a good chance to open the scoring, after being put through by van Driel in the 32nd minute, but his shot went straight at Essex ‘keeper Luke Avenell.
At the other end Edobor fired over from 25yards out and Lomotey saw a shot blocked and roll out for one of many corners accumulated by Essex in a small period of time during the first-half, of which all were well dealt with well by the Sussex defence.
In the 41st minute the deadlock was broken, Clare laid the ball into Lomotey on the edge of the penalty area, his shot was once again blocked, this time by James, only for the ball rebounded kindly back to Lomotey who fired high past Walker into the top corner from 16yards out.
Van Driel had a shot from distance, just before the half was brought to a close, that flew just wide of Avenell’s left-hand post, with the ‘keeper scrambling across to see the ball out.
Half-time: Sussex 0 vs. 1 Essex.
The second-half followed a similar pattern to the first, Sussex were resorted to shots from distance, with Ryan Morey striking a free-kick 30yards out into the wall and substitute Alex Ansa hitting the rebound narrowly over.
At the other end Essex skipper, Martynas Saltenis, fed the ball accurately into Lomotey, and his effort was well smothered by the on-rushing Walker. Lomotey then spurned another chance on 66minutes, as his shot went just over the bar after finding space to shoot from 20yards out.
A piece of uncharacteristic miss control in the 69th minute from Sussex defender Ryan Barratt, let Edobor in on goal, however he shot straight at Walker and the Sussex goalkeeper was again on hand in the 72nd minute to deny Edobor once more, after he was put through by Declan Rydings; the rebound this time falling to Essex’s Liam Nash who, fortunately for Sussex, found himself in an offside position.
Walker was having a busy afternoon, and had to be alert to keep out a shot from Nash, down low to his left-hand side, and from Edobor in the 78th minute, before producing a fantastic diving save to stop Lomotey from finding the bottom corner.
Sussex continued to fire shots from distance at Avenell’s goal, with Barratt and Temba linking up well on the right side to create a chance for Sparks, who turned and hit a well struck shot that was comfortably dealt with by Avenell. Sparks saw another strike well blocked by the Essex defence, and Ansa again fired over from 30yards out on 82minutes.
A quick free-kick from Sussex in their own half, on 84minutes, failed to materialise to anything and lead to an Essex breakaway, which saw ‘keeper Walker deny, Essex defender, Liam Smith’s shot well with his feet.
As the cup tie drew to a close Sussex pushed for an equaliser, Temba passed into Morey, and his shot was well blocked by two Essex players just inside the penalty area. In search of a goal Sussex were exposed at the back, with a late Essex counter-attack well dealt with by Walker outside of his penalty area. The last action saw Morey this time play in Temba, but his attempts to beat his man were unsuccessful, and he plus the ball were well marshalled out of play by Essex defender Luke Read.
After the game, Sussex Manager, Paul Atkinson, said, “I am disappointed for the boys because I think we were the better team, we played some good football, they created chances but so did we - it’s just one of those things.
“They got lucky with the goal coming after a great block that’s just rebounded and dropped at someone’s feet, you cannot legislate for that. Essex have played five games together so far as a team, whereas this is a group of boys I have put together in the last seven days because people kept dropping out.
“I am proud of every single one of them and I want each of them to be involved in the next game, because I think they deserve to have some time together as a squad; what they showed today was outstanding and we were just unlucky not to take our chances - we had chances, we just didn’t get the rub of the green, it a cliché I know, but I think it’s true today.
We wish Essex the best of luck in the next round of the competition at home to Suffolk.”
Stats: (Sussex - Essex)
Shots: 9 - 19; Shots On Target: 4 - 10; Corners: 0 - 4; Fouls Committed: 9 - 14; Offside: 3 - 11.
Sussex: (4-2-3-1): Walker, Hayes, Barratt, Sparks, Jacques (Ansa 45), James, Temba, Van Driel (Atkinson 73), Perry, Morey, Gromett ©.
Not Used: Richer, Hawker, Warren.
Essex: (4-4-2): Avenell, Smith, Nash, Ashworth, Read, Shadwell, Saltenis ©, Rydings, Edobor, Clare (Adelekan 45), Lomotey.
Not Used: Hubbard, Cooper, Linard, Little.
Match Report by Darren Ford