The Middlesex FA Under-18 squad travelled to Liverpool on Saturday last (5th January) for the delayed FA County Youth Cup third round game and suffered an unfortunate and undeserved defeat to a very good home side.
Despite being reduced to 10 players in the 19th minute of the match, we dominated play for much of the game but were thwarted by an exceptional performance from the Liverpool goalkeeper.
Middlesex had the better of the opening exchanges and had the ball in the net in the 14th minute, after a goalmouth scramble started by a free-kick from Jamie Fulton, which Liverpool 'keeper, Joe Williams, saved but failed to hold. The score was disallowed for a foul on the 'keeper.
Joe Williams then made several saves, the best of which were from a high shot on the turn by Ruben Carvalho, which he turned around the angle of the goal, and from a low drive by Femi Azeez.
Kyle Schorah broke free for Liverpool in the 19th minute and went to ground in the Middlesex penalty area. The referee awarded a penalty and deemed that the offence merited a red card for our unfortunate left-back, Babjide Shittu.
Middlesex goalkeeper, Caolan Doyle, dived to his right to save Francis Turkington’s spot-kick. He followed this by making three more close-range saves before the ball was eventually scrambled away.
Despite playing a man short, we continued to dominate possession and create chances. A close-range effort by Jamie Fulton was deflected for a corner. Joe Williams turned Radu Stefanoaica’s shot around the post, following a sweeping passing movement. Simeon Olarein worked his way through the Liverpool defence but was foiled by the 'keeper’s foot.
Simeon then tried a high shot, which was turned over the bar.
Liverpool were dangerous on the break and Caolan Doyle was tested by a low drive from Caleb Jones, who had been released by Kyle Schorah.
Back at the other end, Femi Azeez’s shot was pushed onto the goal post by Joe Williams. Shortly after this, Femi stung Joe’s hands with a low drive after another good passing movement.
A last-ditch tackle on Radu by Liverpool central defender Ged Cunningham produced a corner, while a similar intervention at our end by Jacob Adeyemi, on Liverpool’s Sam Cox, had a similar result.
Liverpool took the lead, in added time at the end of the first half, through a well placed looping header by Matt Griffiths from a corner.
There was just time for Mason Tunbridge to shave the home crossbar before the half-time whistle was blown.
Half-time score: Liverpool 1 Middlesex 0
Caleb Jones took advantage of our stretched defence and increased Liverpool’s lead in the 60th minute with a low shot.
A Liverpool defender received a caution for a foul committed in a promising position for us, just outside his penalty area. However, Mason Tunbridge cleared the cross bar with the resulting free-kick. Mason then narrowly headed over from a corner. Ollie Lawford’s header brought a close range save from Joe Williams.
We were awarded a penalty in the 77th minute for a trip on Effy Difuamna-Hyingi, who had cut in towards goal from the left. Although he correctly guessed the direction of Ollie Lawford’s kick, Joe Williams was unable to get to it.
We pressed for an equaliser and Joe Williams saved a good half-volley from Ollie. Femi cut in and brought another full-length stop from Joe.
In the 88th minute, Ollie Lawford broke clear of the Liverpool defence and was felled just outside the penalty area by Ged Cummingham. Cunningham was shown a red card after the referee had consulted his assistant. Ruben Carvalho’s free-kick was charged down.
Joe Williams showed commendable courage during added time, when he dived at the feet of three incoming forwards to win the ball. He was hurt in the process and had to receive treatment.
Final score: Liverpool 2 Middlesex 1
Our thanks are given to the Liverpool County FA officials for the warm welcome and excellent hospitality which they extended to our players and officials.
Liverpool: Joe Williams, Joe Carroll, Ged Courtney, Francis Turkington (capt), Ged Cunningham, Tom Preston, Sam Cox, Matty Griffiths, Grant Cameron, Kyle Schorah and Caleb Jones
Substitutes: Will Quayle (for Francis Turkington 48 minutes), Louis Kearns (for Sam Cox 86 min) Ethan Van Aston and Jack Rimmer
Manager: Mark Jackson
Assistant Manager: Matt Potter
Physio: Michelle Scott
Middlesex: Caolan Doyle (Northwood), Simeon Olarein (Wingate & Finchley), Michael O’Neill (Hayes & Yeading United), Jacob Adeyemi (Wingate & Finchley), Babjide Shittu (Hanwell Town), Ruben Carvalho (Wingate & Finchley), Lewis White (Harefield United), Mason Tunbridge (Enfield Town) (capt), Femi Azeez (Wealdstone), Jamie Fulton (Northwood) and Radu Stefanoaica (Uxbridge)
Substitutes: Ricardo Matos (Wingate & Finchley) (for Lewis White 46 minutes), Ollie Lawford (Northwood) (for Jamie Fulton 63 min), Efraim Difuamna- Hyingi (Hanwell Town) (for Radu Stefanoaica 71 min), Sukru Yildiz (Potters Bar Town) and Jonti Purdon (Wingate & Finchley) (goalkeeper)
Manager: John Fletcher
Assistant Manager: Darrel Gyngell
Coaches: Wayne Little, Vince Purdue and Danny Gyngell
Physio: Gary Strudwick.:
Referee: Alan Bennett (Lancashire)
Assistant Referees: Ross Woodcock (Lancashire) and Shaun Ivison (Cheshire)