District footballers set for derby clash

Friday, 15th February 2019


The Islington Under-11s Primary Schools District team, back row, from left, Jeremy Antwi, Morgan Mbachu, Louis Buck, Deniz Hayta, Bobby Burrows, James Smeaton, Said Mariche and Zhaviah Campbell; front row, from left, Louis Moncrieffe, Seb Smeaton, Lucas Bell-Lara and Ubaidah Rahman

A TEAM of talented footballers from Islington will be in confident mood ahead of their showdown with neighbouring rivals Camden this Saturday after edging a step closer to getting their hands on a much sought-after piece of ­silverware.

The Under-11s ­Primary Schools District team showed “tremendous team spirit” as they eked out a 1-0 victory away at South London on Saturday to earn a place in the semi-finals of the Inner London County Schools FA’s Kay Trophy.

The win sets them up nicely for another testing away day this weekend when they tackle ­Camden at the London Marathon Playing Fields in Barnet – where a place in the semi-finals of the Lester Finch Trophy will be on the line.

Speaking after the 1-0 win over South London on Saturday at Long Lane Junior Football Club in Kidbrooke, Islington coach Michael MacNeill revealed he saw a unity within his squad that he believes will make them a match for any opponent.

“It was a very blustery day in South London and we played some really good football in difficult conditions, particularly in the second half,” said MacNeill, who is a football development manager with the Islington Football Development Partnership, a joint project run between Islington Council, GLL and Arsenal in The Community.

“Although we scored the decisive goal in the second half, it was our performance in the first half that won us the game – the whole team working hard and defending as a unit.”

With the wind blowing into their faces in the first half the Islington defence had to be at their best against a strong South London side.

Defenders Louis Buck, Lucas Bell-Lara and James Smeaton more than rose to the challenge as they marshalled the home team’s attackers, while Zhaviah Campbell put in a composed display in midfield to give the visitors an outlet.

In the second half, with the wind at their backs, Islington laid siege to the South London half and created a number of promising opportunities, the pick of which saw Said Mariche force a brilliant save from the goalkeeper from close range.

It proved little more than a reprieve as Islington were soon celebrating after Louis Moncrieffe pounced on a clearance from a corner and drove home a shot which just beat the despairing dive of the keeper.

In a highly entertaining and competitive game, Islington held out to keep the score 1-0 and progress to the semi-finals as groups winners – but only thanks to a fantastic last-ditch tackle from captain Bell-Lara, who made a vital block in the closing stages to deny South ­London an equaliser.

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