Sussex held by resilient AFA display
The Sussex County FA Under-18s Representative Squad were held to a 1-1 draw, in Group B of the South East Counties Youth Championship, after a battling performance by the Amateur Football Alliance at a very wet Enfield Town FC.
After a comprehensive 6-1 victory for Sussex in the reverse fixture a few weeks prior, the home side looked determined to not let that happen again and started the match strongly.
With just eight minutes on the clock the Sussex defence failed to clear their lines and Callum Taylor stole in to chest the ball into the path of his teammate Lee Dykes who drilled the ball into the net to give the hosts the lead.
Minutes later AFA nearly doubled their lead as Raewkon D’Cruz fired an effort at goal which Sussex keeper Luke Glover did well to keep out at his near post.
As the half progressed, both sides had chances to score but were thwarted by either fine saves, defensive blocks or off target shots.
Two minutes before the break AFA’s Junior Mubiayi saw his thirty-yard effort turned away by Glover for a corner, and Glover was at it again moments later as he did well to thwart Louie Remy after some solid midfield play by the home side.
With the half-time team-talk still ringing in their ears Sussex came out with a point to prove in the second-half and on fifty-three minutes they were level.
Some fine interplay led to the ball being played out to the right and a deep cross found Sussex skipper Alfie Rogers unmarked at the far post to side-foot into the net.
Sussex continued to have the majority of the possession, apart from the odd breakaway by the home side, but their efforts were dealt with comfortably by the reliable Glover.
At the other end the AFA defence was put under real pressure in the seventieth minute. Three times the ball was cleared off the line in a thirty second spell of chaos in the penalty box, as a combination of great goalkeeping by Rueben Rabstein and last ditch defending just about kept Sussex out.
A draw seemed the inevitable outcome but the AFA had two good chances in stoppage time to clinch the victory. Remy saw his effort beaten out by Glover with the rebound falling to Calvin Donker, but the Sussex stopper was up quickly to complete an outstanding double save.
The last attack of the game went the way of Sussex but Jasper Pattenden was unable to capitalise when put through and one-on-one with Rabstien screwing the shot wide of the target.
A draw was undoubtedly a fair result and credit must go to both goalkeepers, Rabstein and Glover for two exceptional individual displays.
(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Kyle Hemsley Photography)
Goals: 1-1; Shots: 8-12; Shots-on-target: 5-6; Fouls: 12-10; Corners: 6-8; Offside: 1-5; Yellow cards: 2-2; Red cards: 0-0.
AFA: Rabstein, Reynolds, Barton, Routledge, Ansa, Armstrong, Remy, Mubiayi, Taylor, Dykes, D’Cruz.
Subs: Simpson-Miles, Sanchez, Gyasi, Donker, O’Leary.
Sussex: Glover, Reed, Parker, Goldsmith, Walsh, Pickering, Gould, Mott, Rogers, Williamson, Skerry.
Subs: Daley, Pattenden.
Match report by Bob Rashbrook