We were delighted to welcome our friends from Bedfordshire to Rectory Park on Sunday last 30 Sep 2019, when we played them for the Rodney Redmond Memorial Trophy. This trophy was introduced by Bedfordshire FA in memory of a long-standing and much respected Bedfordshire Councillor, who was very prominent in local youth football. It was competed for annually by our two counties for many years but was last played for in 2015. The trophy has been in our possession since then, as a result of a victory by our Under 16 team in that game.
This year’s fixture was between our respective Under 18 squads and produced a very entertaining and competitive encounter. It was exactly the type of match that both sides needed to kick off the season and prepare for their forthcoming FA County Youth Cup games. The tempo of the match can be judged by the fact that referee Steve Hart, who had a good game, produced 7 yellow cards, all for either foul or over-enthusiastic tackles or adopting an aggressive attitude but none for dissent. The ball flowed quickly from end to end and a lot of goalmouth action ensued.
Middlesex were dominant in the first half and thoroughly tested Sam Irish, who was outstanding in the visitors’ goal. It was largely due to Sam that, despite several good attempts, we didn’t take the lead until the 26th minute, when an incisive move involving Hassan Habimana and skipper Teo Kurtaran was finished at close range by Kevin Nyarko.
The Middlesex attack showed impressive pace and repeatedly penetrated the Bedfordshire defence. Sam Irish saved Ryan Morgan’s well struck volley and also good efforts from Felix Amoah (twice) and Hassan. Kevin narrowly cleared the crossbar with a fierce drive and Jack Warburton’s diving header from Teo’s cross was just wide.
Bedfordshire had their chances with Josiah Ramsey looking particularly dangerous. Middlesex custodian, Harry Cawdron dived full length to save his drive from around 20 yards and then thwarted him at close range at the expense of a corner. Harry also saved well at close range from Tyler Fry.
Our visitors hit back after that opening goal and Josiah Ramsey’s low shot across our goal marginally missed the far post. Then Tyler Fry worked his way through our defence but was foiled by Louis Harrison-Sears’ last ditch tackle.
Sam Irish made two more excellent saves. He turned Teo’s wicked lob over his crossbar and then saved at Kevin Nyarko’s feet, after the latter had been put through clear on goal by Felix Amoah.
However, we doubled our lead in the 39th minute through Ryan Morgan, whose shot went in off of a post, after he had been released by Bryant Okono Bilongo.
Further Middlesex attacks were repelled. A timely tackle by Hayden Scantlebury stopped Kevin and Felix was thwarted by Sam Irish. However, we scored a third goal in added time at the end of the half, when centre back Declan Skura connected first time with Teo’s low corner kick.
Half time score: Middlesex 3 Bedfordshire 0
Both managers made several changes for the second half. Middlesex manager fielded all of his substitutes. However, the pace did not slacken. One of Bedfordshire replacements, George Onwunsonye was a constant danger to our defence. He transformed the visitors’ attack into a more potent force. He soon made a good run through the middle before his finishing shot was deflected for a corner.
A Middlesex attack involving Hassan and Kevin finished with Teo heading narrowly wide and then Adi Connolly (now between the Bedfordshire posts) saved Hassan’s downward header.
A spell of Bedfordshire pressure saw our replacement keeper, Finn Rushton, pull off two fine saves and George Onwunsonye hit our post in a goalmouth melee.
Pemiwa Aderoju ran through our defence and hit the woodwork but surpassed this in the 73rd minute, when he beat 3 defenders and netted the only goal of the second half.
Further chances fell to both sides. Adi Connolly saved a stinging drive from Ryan Morgan. Teo Kurtaran made a penetrating run during which he survived one foul before being felled on the edge of the box by another one. He took the free kick himself but placed it wide. Finally, a storming run by George Onwunsonye ended with a shot which passed narrowly wide.
Final score: Middlesex 3 Bedfordshire 1
Another enjoyable event at our new HQ was enhanced by the superb off field organisation by the Centre Support Team, who looked after everyone admirably. The good news is that both counties expressed the intention of continuing this event again. We have been invited to Bedfordshire next year.
Middlesex: Harry Cawdron, Bryant Okono Bilongo (both Hanworth Villa), Louis Harrison-Sears (Hanwell Town), Teo Kurtaran (capt), Declan Skura (both Hanworth Villa), Jack Warburton (Wealdstone), Hassan Habimana (Hanworth Villa), Ronan Hutchings (Harefield United), Kevin Nyarko (Hanworth Villa), Ryan Morgan (Wealdstone) and Felix Amoah (Edgware Town).
Substitutes: Finn Rushton (Wingate & Finchley) (goalkeeper for second half), Michael Karasanski (Brentford Development), Brandon Folly (Harefield United), Barsa Mirtahmasebi (Hayes & Yeading United) and Lewis Crowley (Wealdstone).
Manager: John Fletcher Assistant Manager: Darrel Gyngell Coaches: David Fletcher, Danny Gyngell and Vince Purdue Physio: Gary Strudwick.
Bedfordshire: Sam Irish (AFC Dunstable & Potton United), George Pyke (Eynesbury Rovers & Eaton Socon), Tariq Foster (Crawley Green), Henry Langley (Biggleswade), Adam Tilson (AFC Dunstable), Hayden Scantlebury (Barton Rovers & Hitchin Town), Tyler Fry (AFC Dunstable & Cranfield United), L’Kharmi Gale (Leverstock Green & Luton Allstars), Teddy Daniels, Josiah Ramsey (both AFC Dunstable) and Josh Setchell (Leighton Town).
Substitutes: Adi Connolly (Leverstock Green) (goalkeeper for second half), Dylan Fitzpatrick (AFC Dunstable), Pemiwa Aderoju (Bedford Futsal), Josh Dooley (AFC Dunstable), Kieran Floyd (Crawley Green & Stotfold), Ben Moore (Shefford Town & Campton), Lucas Preston (Leverstock Green) and George Onwunsonye (Crawley Green).
Referee: Steve Hart Assistant Referees: Nigel Hickes and Luke Partington.
FULL SELECTION OF PHOTOS, COURTESY OF CHRIS BENN