The U18 Cup final, the eleventh of this season’s Middlesex FA finals, was played on Thursday, 28th April on Bedfont Sports Club’s splendid 3G surface. It was competed for by Hadley Youth EJA and Whitton Wanderers Youth. The game was covered by the County’s roving team of Chris Benn (photographer) and Jim Taylor (reporter).
The U18 Cup was first contested in season 1968-69, when it was won by Edgware United. 68 teams entered the competition this season, which because of covid restrictions, hasn’t been held since 2019.
Hadley Youth reached the final with victories over Edgware Town EJA (5-2 home) in round 1, Enfield Town (5-1 home) in round 2, Whitton Wanderers U17 Hawks (6-3 away) in round 4, Headstone Manor Youth Red (3-0 home) in the quarter-final and Highgate & Muswell Hill Gala (9-1 away) in the semi-final. They received a walkover against Harrow Club U18 Red in round 3. Hadley Youth play in the Eastern Junior Alliance (Yellow Division).
Whitton Wanderers Youth received a bye in round 1. They then beat Ruislip Rangers U17 Blues (5-1 home) in round 2, Bedfont & Feltham Youth (8-0 home) in round 3 and Harefield United Youth (4-0 home) in round 4. They needed a penalty shoot-out to overcome Harrow Stars U17 (after 1-1 home draw) in the quarter-final and received a walkover against Cre8tive Football U17 in the semi-final. Whitton Wanderers play in the Surrey Youth League (Purple Division).
These teams provided us with an excellent final, full of action and good football. Whitton Wanderers took an early lead, which they held until midway through the second half, when Hadley, who had been having slightly the better of the exchanges, equalised. There was no further scoring and the match went to a penalty shoot-out, which was won by Hadley.
Owen Walsh's free kick goes directly into the Hadley goal
Whitton Wanderers went ahead in the 4th minute. Albie Burgess was brought down making a run up the right wing. Owen Walsh hit the resulting free kick, from an acute angle, directly into the net.
Wanderers kept up the pressure and hit two long free kicks into the Hadley penalty box. The first was dealt with by the defence and the second by keeper, James Cawley.
Hadley then took the initiative. Lord Mansoh, who was a constant threat to Wanderers, tried a long-range shot, which was narrowly off target. Ricardas Milasius’s low drive, from the edge of the penalty area was also just wide. Then Ricardas collected a well-judged pass from Lord but fired low, again narrowly past the post.
James Cawley makes a good take from a corner
At the other end, Hadley keeper, James Cawley made a good high take from Owen Walsh’s corner kick. Then Albie Burgess again sped up the right and crossed for James Gelderblom who fired wide under pressure.
Hadley had more attempts. Andrio Brandao headed over from a corner and then brought a good low save from Conail Ryan. Lord Mansoh was felled just outside the penalty box but Ricardas Milasius hit the free kick too high. Conail made another good save, this time from Ricardas’ low shot.
Whitton Wanderers had a good chance to increase their lead in the 40th minute but a well-placed James Gelderblom shot over the bar.
Lord Mansoh released Ricardas Milasius but Conail Ryan saved well, then Louis Socratous hit the Whitton upright.
Ricardas Milasius (11) just misses from Lord Mansoh's cross
During the 4 minutes additional time, Lord set up Ricardas, who fired wide and then made a penetrating run through the Wanderers defence from which he almost scored.
Score at half time: Hadley Youth EJA 0 Whitton Wanderers Youth 1
Conail Ryan saves Andrio Brandao's drive
Hadley Youth continued to have the majority of scoring attempts. Conail Ryan saved an angled drive from Andrio Brandao and a low shot from Lord Mansoh. He then made two consecutive stops in a goalmouth melee. Then, Louis Socratous hit a shot through a crowd of players and against an upright.
Louis Socratous' (10) deflected shot makes it 1-1
Louis Socratous scored a deserved equaliser for Hadley in the 63rd minute, converting Lord Mansoh’s pass. His finishing shot took a deflection.
Both teams made scoring chances in the final quarter of this pulsating match. Lewis Quintell of Whitton took the ball from halfway before shooting wide. Lord Mansoh made another probing run but the opening that he created wasn’t capitalised on.
Ricardas Milasius beats the keeper...
Hadley’s Matthew Silk set up Ricardas, whose shot hit the far post and bounced back across the goalmouth, into the goalkeeper’s hands.
...and the ball rebounds back to the keeper from the far post
Conail Ryan saved Leonard Knight’s header from Lord Mansoh’s wide free kick. Whitton’s Lewis Quintell burst through but his finishing shot was again off target.
Isaiah Akinlabi had a very good chance for Hadley, in the 85th minute but shot wide from close range.
Score at full time: Hadley Youth EJA 1 Whitton Wanderers Youth 1
James Cawley saves Whitton Wanderers' first penalty
Hadley Youth went first in the penalty shoot-out and Bobby Webb scored. Then, Hadley keeper, James Cawley saved Owen Walsh’s kick for Whitton.
Whitton Wanderers' second penalty hits the bar
Louis Socratous was successful with Hadley’s second penalty but Wanderers’ David Melia hit the crossbar with his shot.
Wanderers’ keeper, Conail Ryan saved Hadley’s third kick, taken by David Mazreku. Then, Lewis Quintell scored for Wanderers to take the shoot-out score, after three kicks each, to Hadley Youth 2 Whitton Wanderers 1.
James Cawley saves Whitton Waderers' fourth penalty...
Leonard Knight converted Hadley’s fourth kick and James Cawley secured the cup by saving Max Ratcliffe’s effort for Whitton Wanderers.
...and receives his teammates' congratulations
Penalty shoot-out score: Hadley Youth EJA 3 Whitton Wanderers Youth 1
Referee David Lea had a very good match, well supported by his team of Assistants.
The Guest of Honour, Middlesex FA Director, Barbara Bivens, who was introduced to the teams and the match officials before the kick off, presented the Cup and the individual mementoes at the end of the match. Barbara chose Hadley Youth’s Lord Mansoh as Player of the Match.
A big thank is given to Bedfont Sports FC for the second time this season, for allowing us to use their splendid facilities for this final. We are also grateful for their warm welcome and assistance on the day.
The attendance was 152.
HADLEY YOUTH: James Cawley, Louie Socratous, Daniel Wappett, Leonard Knight, Lord Mansoh, Louis Socratous, Ricardas Milasius, Ashiqur Rahman, Bobby Webb, Andrio Brandao and David Mazreku.
Rolling substitutes: Jawdan Miah, Matthew Silk, Yoihen Sagolsem, Isaiah Akinlabi and Jake Marks.
Managers: Sofocles Socratous and Miled Mustsapha Physio: Socratis Socratous.
WHITTON WANDERERS: Conail Ryan, Alfie Bell, Oscar Girard-Blagrove, Kelsey Morrison, David Melia, Owen Walsh, James Gelderblom, Albie Burgess, Miles Tapper, Oisin Ryan and Julian Gusovchi.
Rolling substitutes: Max Ratcliffe, Lewis Quintell, Sam Daley, Amaar Iqbal and Ryan Babarinde.
Manager: Brendan Ryan Coach: Lewis Walsh.
REFEREE: Dave Lea ASSISTANT REFEREES: Nigel Hickes and Kepa Garmendia FOURTH OFFICIAL: Silvio Fernandes.
Thank you to Chris & Jim for joining us for an entertaining evening at Bedfont Sports where we saw Hadley triumph on penalties. Chris & Jim have selected their favourite shots from the game which can be found throughout the report. Chris has also very kindly supplied a full album of imagery.
Chris & Jim's Picks
Full album courtesy of Chris Benn