Late winner crowns Sussex champions!
The Sussex County FA Under-16s Representative Squad were confirmed as champions of the South East Counties Youth Championship, with a game to spare, after a hard-fought 0-1 win over Middlesex County FA at Uxbridge Football Club on Sunday afternoon.
A late Conrad Honore header sealed victory for Sussex, who maintain their 100% record in the league this season.
Both teams took time to adjust to the conditions of the pitch at Uxbridge with no real clear cut chances for either side early on.
In the twenty-eighth minute Sussex almost took the lead when Demas Ramsis acrobatically met a Marcus Chapman’s cross forcing Adam Holder, the Middlesex goalkeeper, into a save. From the subsequent corner, an effort from Tegan Freeman was narrowly off-target.
Those two chances spurred Sussex on and they finished the first half brightly. Jay Popham went close with an effort from just inside the penalty area, and this was shortly followed by Dylan Little bringing out another good stop from Holder. The last kick of the half was another acrobatic attempt from Ramsis, which went over the bar.
Sussex continued to control the game in the second-half but were coming up against a stubborn Middlesex back line, which did well to reduce opportunities to a minimum.
The introduction of George Mitchell-Phillips was the catalyst needed to create further chances for the visitors. The striker, who was making his debut for Sussex, saw his first shot saved by the Middlesex goalkeeper, in the fifty-eighth minute. That attempt was almost immediately followed by an effort from Max Blencowe, who met a superb pass from Dan Ferriera, before seeing his right-footed shot go past the keeper, but just wide of the post.
The match was now becoming more frenetic. A great combination of passes between the Sussex centre-forward pairing of Mitchell-Phillips and Ramsis, presented the latter with an opportunity to open the scoring, but his effort was too close to the goalkeeper.
Sussex were handed a warning when a long-ball from the Middlesex right channel was met with a fierce strike. The shot rattled the frame of the goal before going out for a goal-kick.
That scare didn’t impact on the visitor’s confidence, as they continued with their quest for a winning goal. An Ollie Munt ball over the top of the Middlesex defence created a chance for Mitchell-Phillips, but his shot drifted narrowly wide.
The Sussex supporters thought they had scored when a Mitch Hewens effort deflected up over the goalkeeper but also agonisingly inches over the crossbar.
Sussex were now dominating possession and trying desperately to find a way through the Middlesex defence. A Ramsis header from ten yards out looked destined to nestle in the bottom left corner of the goal before Holder superbly pushed the ball wide of the post. From the resulting corner, the Middlesex goalkeeper made another save, this time from Hewens.
Two minutes into stoppage time and Sussex were given a free-kick, just inside the Middlesex half. A reaction to the foul by Hewens, witnessed by the nearby Assistant Referee, resulted in the Sussex player receiving a straight red card.
From the free kick, Freeman’s accurate delivery into the penalty area was met by Honore, and the midfielder made no mistake calmly heading the ball down and in to the net, sparking mass celebrations on the pitch, in the dugout and in the stands.
The result sees Sussex go top of the league with four wins out of four, equal on points with Kent. However, having already beaten the neighbours earlier in the season, and head to head results superseding goal difference, Sussex cannot be caught and claim the South East Counties Youth Championship title.
(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Kyle Hemsley Photography)
Goals: 0-1; Shots: 5-22; Shots-on-target: 1-11; Corners: 4-10; Offside: 3-1; Fouls: 20-14; Yellow cards: 1-0; Red cards: 0-1.
Middlesex: Holder, Tola, Kazi, Hutchins, Alexander, Mirtah-Masibi, De Rosa, Saka, White, Taverier-Stuart, Leon-Rivera.
Subs: Clarke, Mohamed, Geedi, Hadi, Malcolm.
Sussex: Lockyer, Chapman, Little, Blencowe ©, Marchant, Freeman, Ferriera, Munt, Ramsis, Popham, Hewens.
Subs: Honore, Whitmore, McSwiney, Mitchell-Phillips.
Match report by Dan Bartlett