A single goal was the deciding factor in a difficult game as FSA Pro London kicked off their nationals campaign against DESA.
Both teams looked confident as play began with DESA looking physically more imposing and FSA looking more technical. The early chances came for FSA who worked the ball around the outside of the opposition before crossing into a dangerous area. The clearance was picked up by Charlie Sissarello who struck the ball towards the top right hand corner, only to be denied by the DESA goalkeeper. DESA’s intention was quite clear, maintain shape and counter attack very quick and very direct. FSA Centre back pairing of Evan Kelly and Jakob El-Hage were able to deal with the long ball over the top and managed to keep possession and play the ball forwards. FSA Pro started to feel more confident as the game went on and looked more likely to take the lead however DESA made this difficult for the FSA players and pressed hard high up the pitch. DESA came close to winning the ball several times but some brave passing and individual skill allowed FSA to play out. The next notable chance in the game came from Dominic Fisher who had been attacking the left wing. Fisher receiving a long pass to feet drove between two players and cut inside but managed to blaze the ball over the bar. A continued amount of pressure had mounted against DESA and they were defending well, pushing all of the FSA attacks wide and away from the goal. Unfortunately for DESA this was to the benefit of Denzel Akyeampong who started to see more of the ball. Akyeampong who was playing right back was able to get the ball on the run and drive past players with blistering pace and attempt crosses into the box. DESA's height advantage meant that they managed to deal with the crosses. DESA after managing to protect their goal went on the attack using their ability to switch the play well which often left FSA Pro fullbacks with two to deal with. DESA managed to work the ball into a couple of dangerous areas but their final ball wasn’t right and often ran out of play or into the arms of goalkeeper Thierri Manley. FSA continued to probe and figure a way to get through the compact block DESA had set up. A quick succession of passes meant that Cameron Ashia was able to break free on the outside of the box. Ashia was shut down quickly but not before he managed a well hit strike with his left foot that whistled over the crossbar. That was the closest either of the teams had come to scoring and the score remained level at half time.
The second half began and FSA looked to be the team that had come out sharper. The speed of the passes had been improved and movements from the front players made it difficult for DESA to track. This increased intensity started to tire the DESA players. Late tackles started to happen more frequently all in a bid to stop FSA from getting on top. The next chance was the consequence of a DESA foul, Lee Quincey on the right hand side played a delightful ball across the face of the goal that was missed at the back post by the rest of the attacking players by inches. A let off for DESA who up until then had been well structured in their defence. FSA sensing they needed a change in personnel made the change, Kenny Bella Mingle on for George Hughes who did well against a physical pair of central defenders. After the change, Mingle had an instant impact manging to combine with Charlie Sisarello and receiving the ball back in the right hand side of the area. Mingle using his tremendous feet to get past one, then another when the goal opened up for him but dragged his shot narrowly wide kissing the outside of the post. DESA looked to be tiring slightly as they continued to send the ball long and relying on their forwards movements to cause problems. A strong display from the entire defensive unit meant that DESA were struggling to create anything of danger. FSA continued their push to find a goal, DESA stayed compact and made it difficult to get in behind however in the 60th minute Cameron Ashia collected another clearance from a cross and hit it sweetly towards the goal. The shot hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced out, FSA players were addiment it had crossed the line and put huge pressure on the referee to make a decision. The goal didn't stand but it wasn't for long, FSA pressed hard, winning the ball back immediately and managed to attempt another cross which was blocked, this time Ashia made no mistake in striking the ball low into the bottom corner past the diving keeper to give FSA the lead and send the team and bench wild.
The goal gave FSA a new sense of confidence and they went on to control and manage the game. DESA needing a goal changed shape to put three players high and continued to use their long passing to keep the ball in FSA’s half. Lee Quincey was instrumental in stopping the ball from going any further winning header after header. FSA managed the rest of the game well, choosing when to explode forwards searching for a goal and when to sit in tight and defend as a team. DESA really turned the pressure on in the last couple of minutes sending a majority of their players up to attack corners and free kicks. However it wasn’t enough as FSA held on and ran out 1-0 winners.
FSA PRO London will now face FAB Academy in the Quarter FInals on Wednesday 16th March at home.
Full Time: FSA Pro London 1-0 DESA
Man of the match: Charlie Sissarello