The Middlesex Senior Challenge Cup final was hosted by Uxbridge FC at their fine Honeycroft ground on Tuesday evening. It was contested by Staines Town FC and Hendon FC, who are both currently chasing promotion from the Bostik League Premier Division. Hendon had previously won this Cup a record 15 times and Staines Town on 10 occasions.
A well contested, evenly balanced and interesting game ended goalless and had to be decided on kicks from the penalty spot. A succession of high-quality kicks ended with Hendon keeper, Tom Lovelock, making a good save from Staines' 5th penalty kick, giving his side their first Middlesex Senior Challenge Cup trophy since 2004.
Staines Town had to make a late change to their starting line up because Sam Hatton suffered an injury in the pre-match warm-up. He was replaced by Elliot Baptiste.
Play moved rapidly up and down the field. A lot of promising attacks eventually failed at the last touch stage against solid defences. Also, both goalkeepers were in very good form.
The first clear chance of the match fell to Staines Town. Jonathan Hippolyte was involved in a penetrating move with Mo Bettamer, received a return pass but shot just over the crossbar.
A good Hendon move involving Daniel Uchechi and Matt Ball came to nothing when Niko Muir was hustled off of the ball. Then, an awkwardly bouncing shot from Niko was safely held by Swan’s custodian, Conor Hudnott.
A well-hit free kick from around 30 yards was parried by Hendon keeper, Tom Lovelock. The subsequent loose ball was hit back into the goal area by Tyrell Miller-Rodney but didn’t attract a touch.
The Green’s Daniel Uchechi burst into the penalty box and created himself a good opening but chose to pass instead of shooting.
The lively Green’s winger, Ashley Nathaniel-George let go a stinging shot, which Conor Hudnott pushed up and then gathered. Then Ashley cut in and delivered a low cross-shot which was deflected for a corner. He then sped up the right, played a 1-2 with Casey Maclaren but was dispossessed.
Tom Lovelock saved well from Nathaniel Olawole following a dangerous Elliot Baptiste free kick and Conor Hudnott thwarted Ashley Nathaniel George.
Swan’s Nathaniel Olawole turned well and burst up the middle but ballooned his shot over the bar.
Hendon’s Niko Muir was set up by Casey Maclaren but Conor Hudnott punched his cross-shot away. Olawole fed Bettamer who set up Miller-Rodney whose shot was wayward.
Halftime score: Staines Town 0 Hendon 0
Play continued to flow from end to end without any end product. Bettamer released Olawole, who fired low but wide of the Hendon goal. Hendon’s Nathaniel-George embarked on a penetrating run but his final pass was cleared. Then Elliot Baptiste shot over the Hendon crossbar.
Hippolyte ran through the Green’s defence but was eventually foiled by the keeper. Another good run by Hippolyte produced a corner, which Udoji headed over. Then Olawole narrowly cleared the bar from the edge of the penalty box.
Hendon’s Muir hit the side netting with an angled shot after being released by Maclaren and Uchechi’s cross-shot was taken high by Hudnott. Hippolyte and Olawole both made good runs into the Hendon box but were undone by their final touches which enabled Lovelock to gain possession.
A fluent Hendon move involving Murphy, Uchechi and Muir ended with Rian Barry’s flick being saved.
In the 90th minute Hendon keeper, Tom Lovelock pulled off a fantastic triple save, starting with Ben Martin’s header from a corner and then two close-range shots, in a flurry of goalmouth action.
The four added minutes failed to produce a score, so the game went to penalties.
Full time score: Staines Town 0 Hendon 0
Hendon started the shoot-out and the first 9 kicks were all successful. Sam Murphy, Josh Walker, Ashley Nathaniel-George, Daniel Uchechi and Niko Muir scored for Hendon and Mo Bettamer, Daniel Brown, Josh Webb and Tyrell Miller-Rodney for Staines Town.
Then Tom Lovelock obviated the need for a sudden death finish by making a diving save from Elliott Buchanan’s shot.
Result of penalty shoot-out: Staines Town 4 Hendon 5
Referee Jason Richardson had a very good match. He was admirably assisted by Alan Cresswell and James Field and fourth official Noel Glavin. The latter handled some aggravation from one of the technical areas in an exemplary manner.
The Guest of Honour, John Jackson, the Chairman of the Middlesex FA Adults Cup Sub Committee, presented the medals and cup after the match. He unsurprisingly chose Hendon goalkeeper, Tom Lovelock as Man of the Match.
Our thanks are given to Uxbridge FC for allowing us the use of their superb facilities and for their hospitality and assistance during the evening. The attendance was 288.
Conor Hudnott, Josh Webb, Tyrell Miller-Rodney, Bayley Brown, Ben Martin (capt), Ugo Udoji, Elliot Baptiste (Kamal McEwan 61 min), Daniel Brown, Nathaniel Olawole (Elliott Buchanan 86 mins), Mo Bettamer and Jonathan Hippolyte.
Substitutes not used: Tommy Brewer, Joash Nembhard, and Sam Hatton.
Manager: Johnson Hippolyte Assistant Manager: Dereck Brown
Tom Lovelock, Sam Murphy, Luke Tingey (Keegan Cole 87 mins), Arthur Lee (capt), Rian Barry, Jake Eggleton, Ashley Nathaniel-George, Casey Maclaren (Oliver Sprague 79 mins), Daniel Uchechi, Niko Muir and Matt Ball (Josh Walker 79 mins).
Substitutes not used: James Hammond and Zak Joseph.
Manager: Gary McCann Assistant Manager: Freddie Hyatt
Photos from the game are available below, courtesy of official matchday photographer Chris Benn.