It was an exciting and very open game, which was a credit to both sides.
A minutes silence was observed as a tribute to Graham Rigby, the much respected Life President of the Middlesex FA Youth Division and Vice President of Middlesex FA, who had sadly passed away during the preceding week.
Our hosts took the initiative at the start and Lewis Todd, in our goal, was in action in the 3rd minute, diving onto a low through ball. Oxfordshire took the lead in the 5th minute. Kei Chamberlain cut in from the left and unleashed a shot from close range, which Lewis pushed out but only as far as Dan Collins, who netted.
We equalised 5 minutes later through Keagan Cole, who, with his back to the goal and surrounded by defenders, controlled a corner from the right, turned and placed the ball through the keeper’s legs into the net.
Then Keagan set up Harrison Livingstone but Oxfordshire keeper, Jake Pritchard, kept Harrison’s shot out with his feet.
Harrison Livingstone put us ahead after 18 minutes with a high looping shot from wide on the left, which went over the goalkeeper and rebounded into the net off of the right-hand post.
Harrison skimmed the Oxfordshire crossbar from around 30 yards. Then, a quick Oxford throw-in caught our defence out and Lewis had to save with his feet to keep out a shot from Sami Khawaja.
Keagan’s pass released Malachy McGovern, whose shot was held under the bar by Jake Pritchard but we added a third goal in the 28th minute, when Keagan took the ball up the middle and around the keeper.
Our 4th goal arrived in the 36th minute, immediately after Callum O’Reilly had tested Jake Pritchard with a low shot. Callum chipped the ball to Harrison, who made ground and transferred to Keagan. Keagan gave the keeper no chance with a shot inside his right-hand post.
Oxfordshire had 2 chances as the interval approached. They made a quick break and outnumbered us at the back but Callum came to the rescue with a well-timed saving tackle. Then Kei Chamberlain finished an incisive move by hammering a low drive just past our post.
Half-time score: Oxfordshire 1 Middlesex 4
A penetrating run by Callum ended with Jake Pritchard saving at Harrison’s feet. Then Keagan was brought down in full flow towards goal. This earned the Oxfordshire defender a caution. Jake stopped the resulting free kick from Nebay.
Oxfordshire now had their best spell of the match and put our defence under considerable pressure. Lewis Todd made a number of important saves, including several with his feet. It didn’t come as a surprise when they scored a second goal in the 60th minute, through the dangerous Kei Chamberlain, who slotted the ball home after a run through the middle.
We survived another dangerous moment shortly after this. Sami Khawaja was brought down just outside our penalty area and the resultant powerful free kick, taken by Jack Tutton, was fired just wide of our goal.
A crucial moment in the match occurred in the 66th minute. Jake Pritchard saved at Keagan’s feet but the ball came out to Nebay, who restored our 3 goal lead. Keagan, released by substitute Alex Hadjithemistou, hit a post and then brought a diving save from the keeper. Alex made the score 6-2 after 75 minutes, with a low cross-shot which went in off of the far post.
Our final goal, in the 83rd minute, came from a strike from the edge of a crowded penalty area by James Taylor.
Final score: Oxfordshire 2 Middlesex 7
Referee Chris Pollard was outstanding. He was well supported by his colleagues.
OXFORDSHIRE: Jake Pritchard (Oxford City Nomads), Josh Dobbins (Oxford City Development), Nathan Simms (Oxford City Youth), Charlie Elliott, Sam Kemp (capt) (Oxford City Youth), Kyle Bestley, Ahmed Farah, Jack Tutton (all Oxford City Development), Dan Collins (Thame United), Sami Khawaja and Kei Chamberlain (both Oxford City Youth).
Substitutes: Regan Mead (Oxford City Nomads) for Josh Dobbins 77 minutes, Cameron Hollick (Oxford City Youth) for Kei Chamberlain 77 min, Arthur Osofsky (Oxford City Development) for Ahmed Fara 77 min.
Manager: Rob Tutton Assistant Coach: Paul Mulvany Physio: Nicole Dean Kitman: Jordi Mulvany.
MIDDLESEX: Lewis Todd (North Greenford United), Brandon Watts (Hampton & Richmond Borough), Jeremy Aglohor (Wingate & Finchley), Ryan Kukoyi (Cheshunt) (capt), James Taylor (Hayes & Yeading United), Corey Watson (Uxbridge), Callum O’Reilly (Hampton & Richmond Borough), Malachy McGovern (Hendon), Harrison Livingstone (Hampton & Richmond Borough), Keagan Cole (Hendon) and Nebay Haile (Staines Town).
Substitutes: Alex Hadjithemistou (Wingate & Finchley) for Harrison Livingstone 66 minutes, Ethan Mooney (Edgware Town) for Nebay Haile 78 mins, Charlie Malin (Beaconsfield SYCOB) for Malachy McGovern 82 mins, Zayn Daniels (AFC Hayes) and Callum Coulter (Bedfont Sports) (gkpr) (not used).
Other travelling squad members: Aaron Spink-Sargeant (Uxbridge), Alfie Pope (Hampton & Richmond Borough) and Rhys Jones (Staines Town).
Manager: John Fletcher Assistant Manager: Darrel Gyngell Coaches: Wayne Little, Remi Bignall, Vince Purdue, Danny Gyngell and Brian Axtell Physio: Gary Strudwick.
Referee: Chris Pollard (Stowmarket) Assistant Referees: Oliver Morris-Sanders (Ipswich) and Ashley List (St Neots). Fourth Official: Ian Stewart (Bedford).
Photos from the game, taken by match photographer Chris Benn, can be found here.