Our Under 18 side journeyed to Douglas last weekend to play their Isle of Man counterparts in an FA County Youth Cup 3rd Round match. Both teams and the match officials contributed fully to an epic encounter, which took place on the 3G surface at the all seated Douglas Bowl on a bitterly cold evening. Unfortunately, we lost the match 4-3 after extra time.
Although it involved a very early morning start and a long tiring day our party enjoyed their visit to this unusual and interesting venue, despite our eventual defeat. The IOM FA officials made us very welcome and ensured that our stay was a pleasant one.
Our hosts went ahead in the 3rd minute through Sidney Batty’s well taken free kick into the top corner of our net.
We hit back and Alex Hadjithemistou, who had an outstanding game, delivered two dangerous long free kicks from out wide. Firstly Chris Forino and then Malachy McGovern made contact with glancing headers but both efforts were off target.
We then forced a succession of corners and after the advancing Chris Forino had again gone close, Ikenna Okeehukwu back-heeled an equaliser, putting the finishing touch to Rawn Seale’s goalbound header after 14 minutes.
Middlesex kept up the pressure and had the better possession and most chances for the remainder of the first half. Ikenna went close, following a good run by full-back Alex Lefleur. Home keeper, James Rice kicked clear from Alex Hadjithemistou, who had burst through the middle. James again saved at close range from Alex H, who was set up by a good passing movement involving Ikenna and Rawn Seale.
Rawn collected a through ball and raced through the home defence before hitting his shot wide. The last action of the first half saw Alex H hitting another free-kick just past the post.
Half time score: Isle of Man 1 Middlesex 1
We continued on the offensive at the start of the second half. Jack Camarda’s timely tackle in the opening minute of the period foiled Ikenna. Alex H’s low drive was tipped around the post by a diving James Rice, who then saved at close range from Jack Roper. Then James saved at Ikenna’s feet.
Alex H crossed for Rawn, whose shot was blocked and Alex L’s free kick from outside the penalty area was just wide. Malachy connected with Alex H’s corner but his effort was also narrowly wide. Substitute Ricardo Price sped up the wing and crossed for Alex H, whose header rebounded off of the crossbar.
However, our hosts regained the lead in the 69th minute through Andrew Burkitt, who drove a loose ball into our net following a goalmouth scramble.
Rawn collected Alex H’s pass and brought another good save from James Rice before we made the score 2-2 in the 74th minute when Ricardo Price out-jumped the defence to head Alex H’s corner perfectly into the top of the net.
Ricardo drilled in a low shot to put us ahead 2 minutes later. We had the initiative now and Ricardo worked his way through but his shot was turned for a corner by James Rice.
The defining moment in the match came in the 85th minute. A long shot from Jay Skelcher-Maxwell hit the underside of our crossbar and bounced down onto the goal line. The assistant referee flagged and the referee awarded a goal.
James Rice saved low down from Alex H during the 3 minutes added time.
Score after 90 minutes: Isle of Man 3 Middlesex 3
James Rice was the busier of the two custodians during the first period of extra time. He saved at full stretch from Felix Amoah, left his area to kick clear from Ricardo Price and saved Chris Forino’s header from Alex H’s long ball. Harvey Hayes, in the Middlesex goal made a good diving save from IOM skipper, Matthew Wilkinson.
The winning goal was scored 3 minutes after the half-time turn around by Sidney Batty with a spectacular long-range free kick. It was certainly a fitting goal to put a seal on a fantastic match.
Score after extra time: Isle of Man 4 Middlesex 3
ISLE OF MAN
James Rice (Onchan), Lewis Bridson (St Georges), Dominic Parish (Ramsey), Andrew Burkitt (Laxey), Carlo Craig (Ramsey), Jack Camarda (Douglas Royals), Matthew Wilkinson (Laxey) (capt), Sidney Batty, Jonny Quirk, Jay Skelcher-Maxwell (all St Georges) and Jacob Crook (Douglas Royals).
Substitutes: Luca Simmons (Douglas Royals) for Jonny Quirk (58 mins), Tom Chatel (St Georges) for Jack Camarda (81 mins), Dylan Pickles (Ramsey) for Carlo Craig (84 mins). Joel Ibanez (St Georges) and Nathan Teare (Michael United) (gkpr) were not used.
Manager: Lewis Qualtrough Coaches: Paul Bridson and Steve Burns Physio: Rachael Croft.
Harvey Hayes (Bedfont Sports), Simeon Olerin (Hayes & Yeading United), Alex Lefleur (Wealdstone), Malachy McGovern (Hendon) (capt), Chris Forino (Cheshunt), Jack Roper (Hayes & Yeading United), Alex Hadjithemistou (Cheshunt), Luke Alfano (Wingate & Finchley), Ikenna Okeehukwu (Edgware Town), Rawn Seale (Wealdstone) and James Raptis (Hendon).
Substitutes: Ricardo Price (Wingate & Finchley) for Ikenna (59 mins), Felix Amoah (Wembley) for James Raptis (68 mins), Jake Sobalek (Hayes & Yeading United) for Luke Alfano 105 mins). Lexus Beedon (Edgware Town) and Filip Chalupniczak (Victoria College) (gkpr) were not used.
Manager: John Fletcher Assistant Manager: Darrel Gyngell Coaches: Vince Purdue and Danny Gyngell Physio: Gary Strudwick.
Referee: Conor Brown Assistant Referees: Declan Brown and Darren Brown Fourth Official: Scott Campion.
Our grateful thanks are given to IOM FA President, Tony Jones and Chief Executive, Frank Stennett and their committee for their superb hospitality while we were in their domain. We were all very impressed by their beautiful island and their Association’s imposing history and set up.
Photos from the match are available here courtesy of matchday photographer, Chris Benn.