The Middlesex Under-16 team started its season on Thursday with our traditional annual curtain-raiser, against our friends from Berks & Bucks, for the Cyril Butler Memorial Trophy.
Cyril Butler was a long standing and much respected Berks & Bucks FA Councillor and his county provided this trophy to commemorate his service to football. The match was attended, as usual, by Cyril’s son, Brian and other members of his family.
It was our turn to stage the fixture this year and as usual, we asked Uxbridge FC to act as hosts. They, as usual, did an excellent job, a fact which was praised by both sides.
Berks & Bucks were the current holders of the trophy, having won the previous two encounters. Middlesex’s last victory in the series was recorded in a 4-3 thriller at the Honeycroft in 2015. Unfortunately, we were unable to prevent a third consecutive victory for our guests but we did contribute to a very entertaining and evenly balanced match.
This game provided the respective managers with the opportunity to evaluate their players and shape their teams for the forthcoming league season. The Middlesex team was selected after a comprehensive series of trial matches at our new Rectory Park facility.
Both teams played attractive football and although goals were scarce, the surprisingly large number of spectators was thoroughly entertained. Our visitors had a slight edge in the first half and deserved their interval lead. However, following some changes made by manager Darrel Gyngell, we improved considerably in the second period and were the better team. However, the Berks & Bucks defence, well marshalled by the dominant Archie Goodcliff and with ‘keeper Ben Parslow giving a solid display, prevented us from making a breakthrough.
Berks & Bucks kept us penned in our own half during the opening stages of the match. However, we broke clear in the 9th minute and striker Brandon Clarke forced a good low save from Ben Parslow.
Then Adam Holder, in our goal, was called into urgent action. He saved at Toby Raggett’s feet and then gathered the ball ahead of the advancing Darren Page. Then Darren finished a good passing movement by firing low across goal. Adam finger tipped his shot for a corner. Then Toby Raggett made a speedy run up the left but was eventually dispossessed.
Play now started to move from end to end. Marco DeRosa shaved the visitors’ bar with a free kick from around 30 yards. Darren Page picked his way through our defence but didn’t quite connect properly with his finishing shot which just missed our far post.
Tyla Taverier-Stuart released Brandon Clarke, who shot over from a good position. Then Isaac Ogunder made a good block on visiting striker Darren Page, who was in the act of shooting. Toby Raggett’s cross across the face of our goal eluded everyone and then centre back Hassan Omar deflected Ollie Bishop’s goal-bound strike for a corner.
Toby Raggett forced the ball home for the only goal of the match in the 38th minute, following a terrific goalmouth scramble, started by Hassan Omar hitting the ball onto his own crossbar and then involving two goal line clearances.
Berks & Bucks had two more scoring chances before the interval. Adam Holder saved low down from Toby’s fiercely struck shot and Darren Page volleyed wide from close range. However, the last action of the half saw the visiting custodian save a low shot from Brandon Clarke.
Half-time score: Middlesex 0 Berks & Bucks 1
Substitute Yunas Mohamed played a prominent part in the second half and his drive early on was deflected high off of a defender for a corner. We had much more of the play and the visiting ‘keeper was kept much busier than he had been in the first half. He saved a low drive from Ronaldo Flowers with his feet and tipped a free kick from 25 yards, taken by Josh Bennett-Chetwynd, over his crossbar.
The introduction of Anas Geedi and Josh in midfield and Yunas up front made a difference and some promising movements developed. Brandon Clarke received good service and pressured the opposing defence. He delivered some dangerous crosses when he attacked down the right wing.
A dangerous cross from right back Rhys Mungrah was headed away by Archie Goodcliff and a high shot from 20 yards by Giovanni Leon-Rivera was competently saved.
Eric Negaru, in our goal for the second half, was called into action to make a diving stop from Taj Khan and a high save from Gabriel George’s well struck free kick.
Brandon Clarke manufactured himself a good opening just before the final whistle but pulled his shot wide.
Final score: Middlesex 0 Berks & Bucks 1
Middlesex: Adam Holder (Textbook Academy) (first half) and Eric Negaru (Sandgate) (second half), Erion Tola (Belmont), Moray Hickson (Eclipse), Isaac Ogunder, Ben Lester (both Hayes & Yeading United), Hassan Omar (Abbey), Marco De Rosa (Whitton Wanderers), Tyle Taverier-Stuart (Magix), Brandon Clarke (Wealdstone), Giovanni Leon-Rivera (Celtic) and Ronaldo Flowers (Brentford Development).
Substitutes (rolling subs were used): Rhys Mungrah (Potters Bar), Nrip Lama (Sandgate), Anas Geedi (Magix), Josh Bennett-Chetwynd (Harrow Club) and Yunas Mohamed (Belmont).
Manager: Darrel Gyngell
Coaches: Wayne Little, Danny Gyngell and Vince Purdue
Physio: Gary Strudwick
Berks & Bucks: Ben Parslow (Fab), Cole Gough (Maidenhead United), Abuzar Khan (Aylesbury), Tarapafadzwa Chitepo (Fab), Archie Goodcliff (Chalfont Wasps), Ben Kendell (Ascot United), Taj Khan (Aylesbury), Gabriel George (Ascot United), Darren Page (Penn & Tyler), Joshua Adeyemi (Eldon Celtic) and Toby Raggett (Bracknell Town).
Substitutes: Ollie Bihop (Fab), Alex Aldred (Chalfont Wasps), Shem Junior Musvabari (Fab) and Oliver Flecknell (Tattenhoe).
Manager: Aaron Steadman
Coaches: Max Squires & Josh Harris
Physio: Jeni Meredith.
Referee: Luke Partington
Assistant Referees: David Lea and Tony Anderson.
For a full selection of photos from the game, please click here