Pre match pleasantries


Jim Taylor
Conclusion of a fantastic run by Middlesex’s last survivor

The Villains impressive run in this season’s Buildbase FA Vase was halted in the 5th round at Rectory Meadow on Saturday, by Long Eaton United of the Midland League Premier Division. An evenly contested game was eventually decided by a duel between the visiting goalkeeper, Sam Wilson and Villa’s top scorer and penalty taker, Sam Merson. Unfortunately for Villa, the goalkeeper came out on top, twice correctly guessing the direction of Sam’s spot kicks.

Although both clubs have only recently returned to action following the long third nationwide lockdown, their form this season has been impressive. Both were unbeaten and well placed in their respective league competitions, before these were terminated. This was the first ever meeting of these two clubs. Neither of them had previously progressed this far in the FA Vase. Villa’s best was the 4th round, while The Blues had reached the 3rd round on 3 occasions prior to this season.

They had both reached the 5th round stage by winning penalty shoot outs, Long Eaton 5-4 against Westfield and Villa 3-1 against Mulbarton Wanderers. That was Villa’s third consecutive shoot out win, following victories against Corinthian 6-5 in Round 2 and Littlehampton 5-4 in Round 3. Previously they had defeated Rayners Lane, Deportivo Galicia and Welling, in their long Vase run.

The match was played behind closed doors but was streamed live.

Villa dominated the opening stages and Sam Wilson palmed away a close range shot by Brandon Barzey. Charlie Wilde then fired a ground shot just wide for The Blues but they took the lead in the 11th minute. A penalty was given for a foul on Kam Campbell, who took the kick himself. Terry Buss saved the shot but Campbell was first to the rebound.

The Villains equalised in the 20th minute, when a low cross, driven across the goalmouth by the dangerous Brandon Barzey was turned into his own net by The Blues’ skipper, Romaine Graham.

Michael Kamara headed against the visitor’s bar from a long throw in, before Villa regained the lead in the 34th minute. Brandon Barzey seized upon a loose ball, sped through the defence, rounded the keeper and netted.

However, just before the interval, Campbell levelled for the visitors from close range, following a goalmouth melee.

Villa had an opportunity to regain the lead in the 53rd minute. They were awarded a penalty following a clumsy challenge by a defender but Sam Wilson, diving to his right, saved Sam Merson’s kick.

The Blues main attacking weapon during the match was the long throw, hurled in by Keiran Walker. This nearly brought results, when it set up a chance for Romaine Graham, which Terry Buss turned over his cross bar. They went close again when Charlie Wilde shot narrowly wide after good work by Jamie Walker.

The visitors were reduced to ten men in the 85th minute, when Kam Campbell received a second yellow card. Villa pressed hard but could not find a winner, so once again a penalty shoot out was required. 

James Shaw netted for Long Eaton before Sam Merson stepped up for Villa. This time he hit his shot to Sam Wilson’s left. Unfortunately for the Villains, Sam Wilson anticipated this and saved well. All of the remaining penalty takers, Jamie Walker, James Taylor, Danny Gordon and Brad Wilson, for The Blues and Bernie Tanner, Michael Kamara and Brandon Barzey, for Villa, were successful, leaving the visitors winners by 5-3.

Congratulations to Long Eaton United, who will play Binfield at home in the quarter finals.

A full range of photography was captured by official Middlesex FA photographer, Chris Benn.

Chris has kindly made all imagery available to both clubs free of charge, we ask that you do share photo credit for Chris.

Photo's can be found here.

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