Middlesex Under 16s staged a brilliant fight-back at Aveley FC to grab a first win of their South-East Counties Championship campaign at the expense of Essex.
The home county had led 2-0 early on through a Bradley Green penalty and a cool finish from debutant Shane Temple. But a spot kick of their own pulled Middlesex back into the contest just before half time courtesy of Brandon Clarke, then Yumas Mohamed and Ronan Hutchins completed the turnaround in the second period.
Unfortunately for Essex, the defeat all but extinguishes their chances of claiming the silverware, but they’ll go into the final fixture with Sussex next month looking to end the season on a high and have plenty to take from the first half of this entertaining fixture.
Essex were in the ascendency from the start, and took the lead on just 4 minutes as Josh Ambrose was felled inside the penalty area. Green then stepped-up to coolly send Middlesex goalkeeper Eric Negaru the wrong way from twelve yards.
That lead was doubled with still only 10 minutes played. Temple burst into the area and, one-on-one with Negaru, slid a low shot inside the left-hand post.
Middlesex looked to respond quickly, and Essex ‘keeper Thomas Ballard made a good save from Clarke, thought he was unable to keep out Clarke’s spot kick four minutes ahead of half time. The Middlesex forward had been tripped on the edge of the box.
Essex created chances late in the first half to restore their two-goal cushion when Lukas Zabulionis wriggled his way through on goal only to be denied by Negaru. Also, Kai Stephen drilled just too high from 15 yards. Middlesex levelled the affair on 51 minutes. Mohamed cut inside and curled a superb finish inside the far post.
Immediately, Essex looked to hit back. Zabulionis teed-up Temple whose shot was well held by new Middlesex ‘keeper Adam Holder. But the turnaround was completed on the hour mark as Hutchins found space on the edge of the penalty to fire a fine effort into the roof of the net.
The visitors came close to adding to their lead when Mohamed saw his low shot squirm just wide via the glove of Essex’s substitute ‘keeper Luke Craigie. A half-volley from Essex’s Stephen was well saved by Holder, but it was Middlesex who had the last chance, Clarke going past Craigie before seeing his shot blocked on the line by Ted Penn.
Essex: Thomas Ballard (Brentwood Town), Billy Harrison (Concord Rangers), Samuel Bayon (Essex School), Ted Penn (AFC Sudbury), Ted Turnham (Brentwood Town), Lukas Zabulionis (AFC Hornchurch), Tommy Ainsworth (Essex Minors [Hornchurch]), Finley Long (Braintree Town), Josh Ambrose (Braintree Town), Bradley Green (AFC Hornchurch), Shane Temple (Braintree Town). Substitutes (repeated): Matt Newberry (Ilford), Luke Craigie (Witham Town), Henry Paul (Billericay Town), Kai Stephen (Ilford).
Middlesex: Eric Negaru (Sandgate), David Amale (Brentford Development), Erion Tola (Belmont), Joshua Kwaito (Soccerlution), Ben Lester (Hayes & Yeading United), Nikola Koracevic (Brentford Development), Marco De Rosa (Whitton Wanderers), Ronan Hutchins (Harefield United), Brandon Clarke (Wealdstone), Yumas Mohamed (Sandgate), Ibrahim Elhaouri (Wingate& Finchley). Substitutes (repeated): Moray Hinkson (Eclipse), Adam Holder (Textbook Academy), Shane McGuinness (Brentford Development), Ayas Kazi (Belmont), Ivan Mahoney (Brentford Development).
Referee: Paul Sturton.
Assistant Referees: Steven Marr and Glenn Baker.