The Middlesex FA men’s team played a very good Royal Navy side at Uxbridge FC on Wednesday evening for a place in the final of the Southern Counties Cup Competition.
Following an evenly contested first half, our visitors took control in the second period to finish as comfortable winners. Without taking anything away from the Navy’s excellent performance, it should be stated that because of late withdrawals and non-appearances, we were handicapped by a lack of depth in our squad. We had just 12 players to start with and because of injuries, sustained in heavy tackles, played the final 25 minutes with only 10.
Play moved quickly from one end of the field to the other in the early stages of the match. Middlesex striker Prince Mbengui just failed to get a touch in front of goal following a penetrating run by Orlando Rodrigues. Alan Sneddon netted for the Navy but was ruled offside.
Dan Boere’s dangerous run was ended by our skipper, Gavin Austin, who brought him down just outside our penalty box. The resultant free kick taken by Alan Sneddon was hard and low but keeper Asen Agov, who had a fine game, did well to parry it.
A fluent Middlesex attack involving Orlando and Prince resulted in Hamid’s goalbound shot being deflected for a corner.
Asen made another good stop, this time with his feet, from Alan Sneddon. Sam Gwynne had progressed up the right and released the ball to Danny Earl who crossed to Alan who produced a rasping shot from close range.
Then Asen left his penalty area twice in quick succession to kick clear from the ever-dangerous Alan Sneddon.
The Navy went ahead in the 40th minute through their big central striker, Andy Todd, whose low cross-shot went in off of the far post.
As the interval approached, a period of heavy Middlesex pressure, which involved some hectic goalmouth scrambles, failed to produce an equaliser.
Half time score: Middlesex 0 Royal Navy 1
Middlesex resumed the attack after half time but the nearest that they came to scoring was a drive from Joe Jackson, which narrowly cleared the Navy crossbar.
Our visitors doubled their lead in the 60th minute when Andy Todd turned Danny Earl’s pass in from close range.
Asen saved a couple of well-struck close-range efforts from Alan Sneddon. Then Gavin Austin deprived Danny Earl of a scoring opportunity with a well-timed tackle and while still regaining his feet, did likewise to Andy Todd.
Bradley Marriott had to be assisted from the field in the 65th minute with a foot injury. As Orlando Rodrigues had already left the field with a similar problem, this reduced us to 10 men for the remainder of the game.
The Navy finished strongly, repeatedly breaching our undermanned defence. They scored their 3rd goal after 74 minutes when Danny Earl swept home a low cross from Ben Brierley.
Asen was excellent between our posts and kept the score down. However, the Navy’s 4th goal arrived in the 83rd minute. Asen saved at Alan Sneddon’s feet but the latter regained the ball in the scramble that followed and forced it home.
Alan Sneddon hit our post and Andy Todd netted the rebound but was ruled offside.
The Royal Navy’s final goal was scored on the final whistle by Ben Brierley.
Final score: Middlesex 0 Royal Navy 5
Asen Agov, Bradley Marriott, Ryan Murphy, Joe Jackson, Michael Kinsella, Gavin Austin (capt), Prince Mbengui, Hamid Hamid, Orlando Rodrigues, Danny Vincent and Sandra de Costa.
Substitute (rolling subs were used): Lucas Costa.
Manager: John Fletcher Asst Manager: Darrel Gyngell Coaches: Vince Purdue and Dan Gyngell Physio: Ben Briggs.
Steve Cross, Sam Gwynne, Jamie Clarke, Ben Booker, Phil Archbold, Saul Thorpe, Danny Earl, Dan Boere, Andy Todd, Alan Sneddon and Marc Walker.
Substitutes (rolling substitutes were used): Luke Donnelly, Stu Morgan, Elliott Rendle, Nick Glendon and Ben Brierley.
Manager: Marty Wallace Head Coach: Steve Johnson Coaches: Stu Morgan, Shaun Hayes, Steve Dalton and Mark Feighery.
Referee: Mike Heavey Assistant Referees: Michael Oakes and Dani Mansour.
After the match, Orlando Rodrigues was presented with his Middlesex cap in recognition of his 6th appearance for our senior team and Prince Mbengui received a medal to commemorate his 4th appearance. Both of these players have previously played with distinction for our u18 team. Prince had received a cap at that level and Orlando a medal.
Our thanks are due, once again, to Uxbridge FC for allowing us the use of their excellent facilities and for their superb hospitality.
It was, as always, a pleasure to entertain the players and officials from our Senior Service, with whom we enjoy an extremely good ongoing relationship.