THE best under-18 players from across Middlesex will once again challenge for the prestigious title of FA County Youth Cup champions when they take part in the national final at the home of Barnet FC next month.
The Hive will be the venue for the showpiece event on April 1 when Middlesex under-18s – who have reached the final for the second time in three years – take on their counterparts from Cornwall.
The Middlesex team, managed by John Fletcher, is largely comprised of youth players from the county’s senior non-league clubs – including Hendon and Wingate and Finchley.
They have stormed through to this year’s final, scoring 16 goals and conceding just five in four convincing displays.
However, their last final appearance ended in heartbreak as, having been 2-0 up against Cheshire with 15 minutes remaining, Middlesex surrendered their lead, going down 3-2.
While none of the current team played in that match, Fletcher, who was in charge that day, will be hoping the county can put that defeat behind them with victory over Cornwall.
He said: ‘I am lucky enough to manage a Middlesex FA team for a second time in the final of a national competition.
“I’ve experienced the disappointment from two years ago and hopefully have learnt from it. Our preparation for this years’ final has been very good – the squad is well balanced, they are all focused and very much looking forward to the game.
“So, it’s all about concentration, effort and being ready at the right time – our under-18 squad is a talented group of young players who, if they continue to work hard, are capable of getting the right result on April 1.
“I would, however, like to take this opportunity to congratulate Cornwall FA on their first FA County Youth Cup Final. I know they will be equally as keen to win the cup. I feel it will be an exciting, action-packed game and I’m sure, whatever the outcome, it will be a credit to youth football.”
Middlesex FA President, Jim Taylor, added: “We are all eagerly anticipating this match. John, ably assisted by Darrel Gyngell and his excellent team of coaches, has consistently produced formidable and eminently watchable teams over the past decade.
“We hope that both management teams, the officials and supporters of both teams enjoy a memorable day. It should be an occasion to remember and may the better team win.”
Tickets will be available on the day from the Barnet FC ticket office and will be priced at £5 for adults and £1 for under-16’s and OAPs. Kick-off is at 2pm.
For more information and to follow all the build-up to the game, go to the Middlesex FA website www.MiddlesexFA.com or follow them on Twitter @middxfa