51 teams entered this season’s competition. Both finalists accrued impressive records in reaching this stage. They each conceded just 3 goals, while NPL scored 17 and Wingate & Finchley netted 23 times.
Although this season’s result was the same, a narrow win for Wingate & Finchley, the game was more open. Last season’s battle of attrition was won with a single goal scored midway through the second half. This time the score was 2-1. Both sides demonstrated a desire to attack and but for some good goalkeeping and some wasteful finishing, more goals would have been scored. NPL’s scoring capabilities in this match were almost certainly affected by the absence of Middlesex representative striker, Alfie Pope, who has scored 35 goals this season and Kailan North. These players both watched the game on crutches.
In the 3rd minute Josh Thompson’s timely tackle on flying winger, Nicholas Kouroushi, prevented a possible opening goal for Wingate.
NPL went ahead in a rather fortunate way after 12th minutes, through Mason Worsfold-Gregg. A back pass from Romario Cazaubon rebounded off of goalkeeper, Sam Brazier to Mason, who stroked the ball home.
8 minutes later non-stop Wingate centre forward, James Meehan beat 3 defenders to a loose ball up the middle to equalise.
Mason Worsfold-Gregg’s low drive was turned around the post by Wingate custodian, Sam Brazier for a corner. Then Wingate had some good opportunities. Keeper Max Bramhall saved Cameron Lyttle’s low drive. Alex Hadjithemistou’s free kick from wide on the left was met with a glancing header from Romario Cazaubon, which just missed the far post. A very good passing movement involving Anthony Stavrou and Ben Reynolds set up Vass Manderville, whose shot was off target.
NPL’s Alex Pearson outjumped everyone else in a crowded goalmouth to get his head to a Kai Hanley corner but his effort was narrowly wide.
The first half finished with Max Bramhall turning a fierce low shot from Wingate’s Cameron Lyttle around the post.
Half time score: NPL Youth 1 Wingate & Finchley Youth 1
Max Bramhall left his penalty area to thwart Wingate’s James Meehan, who was chasing a long through ball.
In the 53rd minute, Wingate Centre back, Joseph Toscani, moved upfield to convert a long free kick, taken by Alex Hadjithemistou . This proved to be the winning goal.
Another free kick by Alex, from a wide angle, tested Max Bramhall. Max then caught a high shot from Cameron Lyttle. A last ditch tackle by Mason Worsfold-Gregg on James Meehan saved the situation for NPL and Max Bramhall left his penalty area to head away from Ned Clarke.
Wingate’s Luca Quattromini was felled on the edge of the NPL penalty area. The resulting well struck free kick by Alex Hadjithemistou brought the save of the match from Max Bramhall, who acrobatically launched himself to his left to turn the ball away.
NPL Youth mounted a series of attacks in the later stages of the match which resulted in a lot of action around the Wingate penalty area. However, they couldn’t break through a resolute defence. Goalkeeper Sam Brazier performed particularly well, while under pressure from the mass of bodies in his goalmouth.
Final score: NPL Youth 1 Wingate & Finchley 2
The Guest of Honour, Middlesex FA Director Barbara Bivens, who presented the cup and medals after the game, selected Wingate & Finchley central midfielder, Alex Hadjithemistou as Player of the Match.
Referee Argen Babakhanlou controlled the match sensibly. He was well supported by his Assistant Referees, Robert Reid and Lee Tilbury and Fourth Official, Barry Kyriacou.
Our thanks are given to North Greenford United FC for the use of their fine facilities and for their superb hospitality on the night. The attendance was 122.
NPL YOUTH: Max Bramhall, Will Christophers, Alex Pearson, Ryan David, Josh Thompson, Chris Wort, Joe Bates, Mason Worsfold-Gregg, Kai Hanley, Sam Cheah and Will Davey.
Substitutes: (rolling substitutions are permitted in this competition) Ben Gallifent, Alex Brown, Jack Smith, Charlie Pike and Lewis Gallifent (gkpr).
Manager: Steven Bates.
WINGATE & FINCHLEY YOUTH: Sam Brazier, Cameron Lyttle, James Meehan, Joseph Toscani, Tyler Forbes, Romario Cazaubon, Vass Manderville, Ben Reynolds, Nicholas Kouroushi, Anthony Stavrou and Alex Hadjithemistou.
Substitutes: Ned Clarke, Tyler Smith, Christian Artimadis, Petrit Krasniqi and Luca Quattromini.
Manager: Jonny Georgiou.