The final of this season’s Jeff Ritson Senior Youth Cup was played at Berkeley Fields, the home of North Greenford United FC, on the evening of Thursday, 5th May. The finalists were the Under 18 squads of AFC Hayes and Bedfont Sports. The roving team of Chris Benn (photographer) and Jim Taylor (reporter) covered this match.
Jeff Ritson was a President of Middlesex Youth FA. He was an enthusiastic and tireless worker for all football but particularly youth football in the County. It is entirely appropriate that his name lives on with this cup, which is competed for by clubs at the pinnacle of Middlesex youth football.
The Jeff Ritson Senior Youth Cup was first played for in season 2000-01 when it was won by Edgware Town Because of the pandemic, the final hasn’t been played since 2019, when North Greenford United beat Bedfont Sports 3-2, after extra time, in an epic struggle at Hampton & Richmond Borough’s Beveree Stadium.
20 teams entered the competition this season.
AFC Hayes reached the final by beating Hertford Town 5-0 at home in round 1 and then Hayes & Yeading United 2-0 also at home in round 2. They lost the quarter-final against Harefield United but were re-instated because of a breach of rules by their opponents. They beat Northwood 4-1 away in the semi-final. They currently play in the Allied Counties Youth League East Division.
Bedfont Sports received a bye in round 1 and then beat Hendon 4-2 at home, Enfield Town 2-0 at home and then CB Hounslow United 4-1 away.
Bedfont Sports compete in the Isthmian League Youth West Division and arrived at this game looking to complete the double, having already won their league title.
Both teams contributed to a very entertaining final. Although Bedfont Sports eventually emerged as comfortable winners, AFC Hayes fought all the way and played some good football in doing so. They matched Bedfont for much of the match and only trailed by a single goal at the interval. Sports added a second goal on the hour and eventually two more to capture the trophy.
AFC took the initiative. Razvan Calota won a tackle and set up Lewis Muller, who ran into some heavy traffic and lost possession. They then won a free kick out wide but Zack Rogers’ effort was cleared.
The pre-match presentations
AFC's Lewis Muller runs into heavy traffic
The play went to the other end of the field and a concerted spell of pressure in the AFC goalmouth saw Bedfont try several potential openings before Amara Chuckwanta’s shot bounced off of the keeper’s foot for a corner.
A shot from AFC’s Jordan Cunningham, after the ball had bounced around in the box, was saved by Bedfont custodian, George Gay.
Then a long ball found Bedfont striker, Michael Goddard, whose low shot was held at the second attempt. Michael worked his way through again but was blocked by the keeper. He then won the ball from a defender but shot wide.
The AFC Goalkeeper Reece House brings down Michael Goddard
Bedfont forced several corners during another spell of pressure. Freddie Solly’s strike was charged down. Then, in the 31st minute, a through ball from Alfie Lal released Michael Goddard, who was brought down by the goalkeeper. Owen Cartwright converted the penalty to give Bedfont the lead.
Owen Cartwright converts the penalty
Next Michael Goddard released a looping shot, which was just wide. He was then the recipient of a timely tackle by AFC’s Louis Russell, after being put through again by Alfie Lal. Undeterred, Michael picked up another through pass, beat two defenders and fired narrowly wide.
A shot from AFC’s Jordan Cunningham was off target before Bedfont resumed the attack. Michael Goddard volleyed a cross just over the crossbar and then AFC keeper, Reece House beat Taheen Bentabbal to Alfie Lal’s through ball.
Half time score: AFC Hayes 0 Bedfont Sports 1
Jordan Cunningham’s shot was blocked by Bedfont midfielder, Luca Osborne.
Reece House saves with his feet from Amara Chuckwanta
At the other end, keeper Reece House made a good save, with his feet, from Michael Goddard. Michael then attempted to set up Freddy Solly, who was beaten to the ball by Reece. Reece saved with his feet again, this time from Amara Chuckwanta, who was attempting to convert Freddie Solly’s cross.
Michael Goddard scores Bedfont's second goal
Michael Goddard doubled Bedfont’s score in the 60th minute, by netting to finish a fine passing movement, involving Owen Cartwright, himself and Alfie Lal. A brave dive at Michael’s feet by Reece then prevented another Bedfont goal.
Reece House saves with his feet from Michael Goddard
AFC substitute, Luay El Achkar set up Jordan Cunningham, who was foiled by a good interception by Owen Cartwright, at the expense of a corner.
Reece House again saved with his feet from Michael Goddard following Alfie Lal’s perceptive pass.
Kian Hyland hit the ball low across the Bedfont goal but failed to get a touch.
Freddie Solly scores Bedfont's third goal
Freddie Solly collected a cross-field ball and hit Bedfont’s 3rd goal in the 80th minute.
Michael Goddard shoots...
Michael Goddard hit Bedfont’s 4th goal and his 2nd, from the edge of the box in the 86th minute.
...and scores Bedfont's fourth goal
Amari Adams burst though the Bedfont defence but his momentum took him too wide. In the concluding moments of the match, Reece House made a double save, from Michael Goddard’s drive and then from Freddy Solly’s follow up shot.
Final score: AFC Hayes 0 Bedfont Sports 4
Referee Steve Hart controlled the game with his usual cheerful efficiency, well supported by his team of assistants.
The Guest of Honour, Middlesex FA Chairman, John Taylor chose Michael Goddard as Player of the Match.
It was a pleasure to visit North Greenford United FC again, for the 3rd final that they have staged for us this season. Our thanks are given to the club for allowing us the use of their fine facilities and for their kind hospitality.
The attendance was 187.
AFC Hayes: Reece House, Luke Owens (capt), Zack Rogers, Ruari Mcloughlin (Chase Lecky 83 min), Razvan Calota, Louis Russell, Lewis Muller (Luay El Achkar 65), Amari Adams, Jordan Cunningham, Stan Woodley and Kofi Garrett (Kian Hyland 55).
Manager: Dale Welch Coach: Martin Brayford.
Bedfont Sports: George Gay, Kadmil Anderson, Owen Cartwright (capt), Redor Omar Atininah, Radostan Danchev, Luca Osborne (Kyle Macdonald 80), Taheen Bentabbal, Freddie Solly, Alfie Lal (Jack Beck-Nardoni 70), Michael Goddard and Amara Chuckwanta (Karl Bailey 75).
Unused substitutes: Deni Konstanov and Tommy Dyett (goalkeeper).
Manager: Mark Fabian Coach: Jimmy Wigmore.
Referee: Steven Hart Assistant Referees: Luke Partington and Salahudeen Muhammad Fourth Official: Vishaal Patel
We thank Chris and Jim for covering the match for us, as ever they have selected their favourite shots from the match, Chris has also very kindly provided a full album of imagery.
Chris & Jim's Picks
Full album courtesy of Chris Benn