The first semi-final of this season’s Middlesex Sunday Premier Cup was contested on Sunday, 12th February, between Highgate Albion and Grenfell Athletic, at the well-appointed St Aloysius Playing Fields. Your reporting team were there on a dull and drizzly morning and together with the vociferous followers of both sides, they were treated to a splendid cup tie.
16 clubs entered this, Middlesex FA’s top Sunday competition. Highgate Albion beat Abbey (9-1 away) in the 1st round and Club Assyria (2-1 away) in the quarter-final. Grenfell Athletic had a walkover in the 1st round, after their prospective opponents, Westbourne United folded. They overcame Indian Gymkhana Sunday (6-1 at home) in their quarter final.
A hard fought, at times explosive and skilful match flowed quickly from one end of the pitch to the other. Highgate went ahead in the 5th minute. Grenfell equalised 6 minutes before half time but Albion regained their lead before the interval was reached. They added a third goal in the 55th minute and a fourth 8 minutes later. Albion’s defence was subjected to considerable pressure as the second half unfolded but they managed to limit their visitors to just one further goal, scored in the 82nd minute.
Grenfell Athletic’s Kyle North was the first goalkeeper in action, punching away Kyle Brindle’s cross.
Solomon Ofori puts Albion ahead
Albion’s early goal was netted by the speedy Solomon Ofori, who converted a low cross from the right.
Fasal Kamara's (8) free kick...
A free kick taken by Grenfell’s Fasal Kamara, following a trip just outside the box curled inches wide of the post.
Solomon Ofori was proving to be a handful for the visiting rear-guard. His low centre was taken by the keeper and then he fired narrowly wide.
At the other end, keeper Charles Taylor saved at Jacob Lord-Garnett’s feet.
Kyle North saves from James Esprit (10)
Solomon released James Esprit, whose fierce drive was saved by keeper Kyle North’s legs.
A dangerous ball into Albion’s goalmouth, just eluded a stretching Aaron Pham. Jacob Lloyd-Garnett’s low shot, from around 25 yards, was taken by Charles Taylor, who then fielded Mohammed Mumin’s angled bouncing shot.
Jacob Lord-Garnett heads home Grenfell's equaliser
Jacob equalised for Grenfell in the 39th minute by heading home Charlie Cain’s corner.
Charlie Cain clears off of the goal line from Ian Maitland
Albion hit back and Ian Maitland’s close-range effort was cleared off of the goal-line by Charlie Cain.
Ian Maitland (99) restores Albion's lead
However, Ian restored Albion’s lead in the 39th minute, by netting following a corner.
Kyle North again used his legs, to prevent Daniel Taylor from adding to that lead before the interval.
Score at half time: Highgate Albion 2 Grenfell Athletic 1
Pele Riley (9) heads Albion's third goal
Pele Riley scored Highgate Albion’s 3rd goal, in the 55th minute, by heading home Daniel Taylor’s free kick, awarded for a foul on James Esprit.
Alexandru Gauriloaia, replaced Charles Taylor between the Highgate Albion posts and immediately distinguished himself with a point blank save, following an in-swinging corner from Charlie Cain.
Kyle Brindle (far right) nets Albion's fourth goal
Kyle Brindle finished off some good Albion approach work by netting their fourth goal in the 63rd minute.
The pace now stepped up and play often became frantic, as Grenfell sought to claw back Highgate’s lead. They forced a series of vicious corners taken by Charlie Cain, which thoroughly tested the home defence.
Alexandru Gairiloaia deals with a Grenfell corner
Replacement custodian, Alexandru Gauriloaia was kept very busy. He left his area to kick clear from Aaron Pham and saved low down from Leon Bedeau-Francis and high up from Tayshan Hayden-Smith. He also, repelled several very difficult corner kicks.
Another save by Alexandru
Eventually, in the 82nd minute, the visitors capitalised on one Charlie Cain’s corners, when Fasal Kamara poked the ball home.
Fasal Kamara (8) scores Grenfell's second goal
More action around the Highgate goal saw Alexandru punch away another corner and then leave his penalty area to head clear. Then Fasal Kamara shot just wide.
Referee, Darren Fenner handled the match well, dealing efficiently with some challenging situations. He was well supported by his assistant referees.
Final Score: Highgate Albion 4 Grenfell Athletic 2
TEAM LINE UPS:
Highgate Albion: Charles Taylor, Rob Magwood, Steven O’Hara, Kyle Brindle, Ian Maitland (capt), Daniel Taylor, Akram Mohamed, Shahzed Anwar, James Esprit, Pele Riley and Solomon Ofori.
Rolling substitutes: Alexandru Gauriloaia (goalkeeper, replaced Charles Taylor 59 mins) Tage Kennedy, Alvin Kyeremeh, Richard Ennin, and Aaron Scott.
Grenfell Athletic: Kyle North, Aaron Pham, Charlie Cain, Leon Bedeau-Francis, Jack Lovell, Tayshan Hayden-Smith, Fasal Kamara, Warden Burton, Joseph John, Jacob Lord-Garnett and Ryan Moloney.
Rolling substitutes: George O’Brien, Zane Turner and Mohammed Mumin.
Referee: Darren Fenner Assistant Referees: Dario Zavagno and Simon Cudner.
In the final, scheduled for Sunday, 26th March at Northwood FC, Highgate Albion will play Heavy Hitters FC, who beat Albion’s 2nd team 4-2 on Sunday last, 19th February.
We thank Chris & Jim as ever for giving up their Sunday to cover this game. Chris and Jim have selected their favourite shots from the game and Chris has kindly provided a full album of imagery from the game.
Chris & Jim's Picks
Full Album Courtesy of Chris Benn