The Quarter Finals of the Middlesex Under 18 Cup were contested on Sunday last, 6th February and our roving team of Chris Benn (photographer) and Jim Taylor (reporter) chose to visit the well-appointed Whitton Park Sports Association grounds in Wills Crescent, Hounslow, for the game between Whitton Wanderers Youth U18 and Harrow Stars U17.
Both teams had reached this stage of the competition in spectacular fashion. Whitton Wanderers received a bye in Round 1 and then scored 17 goals, while conceding just 1, in Rounds 2, 3 and 4. They were drawn at home each time and beat Ruislip Rangers U17 Blues 5-1, Bedfont & Feltham Youth U18 8-0 and Harefield United Youth U18 4-0.
Harrow Stars also received a bye in Round 1. Their goal tally was even higher. They had netted 25 goals but had conceded 7. In Round 2, they beat Belmont Bees U17 Red at home 12-0. In Round 3, they finished all square at 5-5 away to Omonia Youth U18 Gold before winning the penalty shoot-out 12-11. Then, in Round 4, they recorded an 8-2 away win at ProFA U18 Red.
This tie was evenly contested and interesting, despite the weather conditions. A high wind, varying in its intensity blew down the pitch for the entire match. It was also very cold but fortunately, the threatened rain held off.
Harrow Stars took the lead midway through the first half and appeared to have the match won. However, Whitton Wanderers snatched victory by equalising in the 88th minute and triumphing in the penalty shoot-out.
Unsurprisingly, nothing noteworthy happened in the opening fifteen minutes or so, as the teams sized each other up and accustomed themselves to the conditions. Play remained mainly in midfield and there was very little goalmouth action.
Harrow Stars, who were kicking with the wind, started to gain the ascendancy and scored in the 22nd minute. A well worked move up the left wing ended with Erand Saraci heading home Sasha Gorin’s cross.
Erand Saraci (16) heads home for Stars
Whitton Wanderers hit back and in the 30th minute, Julian Gusovschi made a run through the middle and was felled in the penalty box. The resultant penalty kick led to a bizarre episode.
Whitton Wanderers' Julian Gusovschi is brought down for a penalty
Owen Walsh takes the kick...
The taker, Owen Walsh took a long run up and struck the ball extremely hard. It cleared the cross-bar, crashed into the bar on the set of rugby posts immediately behind the goal and rebounded back onto the field of play. It appeared to the spectators congregated along the touch line and to some of the players, that the ball had struck the cross-bar of the goal and play continued, until the referee and his linesman were able to confirm what had actually happened.
...which hits the rugby bar behind the goal
The Stars had the better of the possession during the remainder of the first half and created several chances, with the skilful Sasha Gorin prominent in many of the build ups. Kade Owen’s close-range header was held by Wanderers’ keeper, Conaill Ryan. Erand Saraci skied the ball from a good shooting position. Alexander Chemali fired low across goal and just missed the far post. Kade Owen broke through and evaded several challenges before also firing narrowly wide. Rahiem Wright-Keizer was thwarted by the goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation.
Wanderers’ only scoring threat during this period came from Owen Walsh, who burst through the middle but shot wide.
Score at Half time: Whitton Wanderers 0 Harrow Stars 1
Both teams now created scoring chances. The first of these fell to Stars’ Rahiem Wright-Keizer, who shot low past the far post. Then Stars’ keeper, Harry Francis did well to punch an in-swinging corner taken by Owen Walsh out from under his cross-bar.
A well struck long ball by Wanderers’ Alfie Bell, into the Stars’ penalty box, eluded his forwards and was safely gathered by the keeper. A header from a Wanderers’ corner kick just cleared the bar. Then the visitors’ keeper saved a header by Albie Burgess from the home keeper’s wind assisted kick.
Stars’ Rahiem Wright-Keitzer was put through by Nathan Browne but was too high with his shot. Then Nathan set up Sasha Gorin whose shot was narrowly wide.
The Stars’ keeper hit Owen Walsh with an intended clearance but was able to collect the rebound.
Albie Burgess (7) breaks clear...
In the 88th minute Albie Burgess collected a loose ball in midfield and ran on to place the ball past the Stars’ keeper, into the corner of the net to equalise.
...and nets the equaliser
Score after 90 minutes: Whitton Wanderers 1 Harrow Stars 1
The penalty shoot-out started well for Harrow Stars. Sasha Gorin went first for them and scored and then their keeper, Harry Francis saved James Gelderblom’s shot. Score: 1-0 to Harrow Stars.
The second set of penalties went in favour of Wanderers. Their keeper, Conaill Ryan saved James Alexander’s kick and then, although Harry Francis got to Owen Walsh’s fiercely struck shot, he couldn’t keep it out. Score 1-1.
Hayden Barnes blazed Stars’ third kick high and wide and then Miles Tapper scored for Wanderers. Score 2-1 to Whitton Wanderers.
Ryan Conaill makes his second penalty save
Conaill Ryan saved Alexander Chemali’s kick for Stars and then Wanderers’ Max Ratcliffe converted his kick, to win the tie.
Max Ratcliffe's kick wins the tie
Result of Penalty Shoot-Out: Harrow Stars 1 Whitton Wanderers 3
The congratulations ensue
Both sets of players and their coaches must be congratulated on producing a very watchable and skilful match in unhelpful conditions. The sportsmanship displayed was impeccable. Also, referee Stephen Roberts must be commended on the efficient and sympathetic manner in which he controlled the proceedings.
Whitton Wanderers: Conaill Ryan (capt), Oisin Ryan, Oscar Giraud-Blagrove, Alfie Bell, David Melia, Albie Burgess, Owen Walsh, James Gelderblom, Max Ratcliffe, Julian Gusovschi and Miles Tapper.
Substitutes (rolling subs used): Gabriel Giovani Manolache, Kelsey Morrison, Sam Daly, Ryan Babarinde and Amaar Iqbal.
Manager: Brendan Ryan.
Whitton Wanderers Youth U18
Harrow Stars: Harry Francis, Joel Duncan, Alexander Chemali, Mohammed Abdulkadir, Makael Scott, Kade Owen, Rahiem Wright-Keizer (capt), Sasha Gorin, James Alexander, Erand Saraci and Hayden Barnes.
Substitutes: Lucas Photi, Nathan Browne, David Owusu-Obie, Renaldo Hay and Octavio Rodrigues.
Manager: Ali Abdulkadir.
Referee: Stephen Roberts.
As always we thank Chris & Jim for giving up their spare time and for braving the weather conditions, which aren't always on their side! As ever they have selected their favourite images and have displayed them throughout this report. Chris has also very kindly provided a full album of photography.
Chris & Jim's Picks
Full Album Courtesy of Chris Benn