Our Under 18 Representative side faced Kent FA in the final of South East Counties Youth Championship Cup Final at Bedfont Sports FC on Wednesday night
This season’s U18 Representative campaign got off to a difficult start with an early exit from the FA County Youth Cup at the hands of Essex back in October. This was followed by the sad passing of our Representative Committee Chairman Stephen Hedley in November, just days before our first match in the South East Counties Youth Championship.
It is a huge credit to the team that despite these setbacks they then put in a succession of spirited performances, with Ryan Brooke’s side winning two games and drawing one without conceding a goal to finish top of Group B and secure a place in the season ending finale against Group A winners Kent FA.
The early exchanges in the match were characterised by a high level of physical intensity, with the referee having to intervene on several occasions as the two sides sought to impose themselves on the encounter. Both created openings in the early exchanges but it was Kent who made the breakthrough with a counter attack down the left seeing Gerald Sithole put them ahead on 17 minutes.
The remainder of the first half saw the match settle into a more consistent pattern with Kent looking dangerous through the pace and power of forward Hamid Ishola and their backline holding firm as Hertfordshire sought to find a way through for an equaliser.
Going in 1-0 down at the break our boys would have felt they were still well capable of getting back into the tie, but unfortunately a headed goal from George Robinson that doubled Kent’s advantage just three minutes after the interval left them with a mountain to climb. Over the course of the second half they had to commit ever more men forward in search of a way back into the game, despite the constant risk of a counter attack.
An early warning came when a break from Ishola left Lucas Preston having to make a last ditch tackle on the edge of the box which resulted in him being shown a red card. Going down to ten men didn’t stop Hertfordshire pressing however, and it is credit to their organisation and spirit that they managed to continue to take the game to Kent through the remainder of the second half.
In the end however, it was almost inevitable that Ishola would get an opportunity to break free, and so it proved in the closing minutes, racing through one on one with Sarchet and slotting home to finally end Hertfordshire’s resistance.
Although it wasn’t the result they would have wanted, it was another committed performance from our team to round out what has been an impressive season. We are rightly proud of their efforts throughout what has been a challenging campaign.
Our congratulations go to Kent FA who were worthy winners on the night.
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The future of Representative football in Hertfordshire
The Hertfordshire FA Board recently considered the position of our Under 18 and Women’s Representative Teams with a view as to whether they should continue to participate in future seasons.
The tradition of Representative Football in the County down the years is such that this decision is not one that we take lightly. However as the landscape of the game continues to evolve we believe that the position of Representative Football within it has changed and that our wider football development goals can be more effectively served by focussing our efforts in other areas.
As such we can confirm that Hertfordshire FA will no longer participate in Representative Competitions. We would like to thank all those Players, Managers ,Coaches, Parents, Council Members, Staff and others who have contributed and supported the Teams throughout the years.
Hertfordshire FA Squad:
Will Sarchet, Connor La Plain, Lucas Preston, Nathan Tyson, Jamie Overton, Mitchell Stanger, Jack Walker, Reece Crowther, Max Jessop, Louis Benson, Louie Johnson, Ethan Kessell, Harry Hunter, Ryan Emmanuel, Lewis Wicker, Marcus Cesvette