FA Sunday Cup match photo


Jim Taylor

Highgate Albion, who reached the FA Sunday Cup final in 2022, took on Home Bargains FC from Liverpool in the semi-final of this season’s competition, at Aggborough Stadium, the home ground of Kidderminster Harriers FC, on Sunday last, 24th March.

Albion had reached this stage of the competition by beating Sungate (away) 3-2 in round 1, SE Dons 2-1 (at home) in round 2, The Wall 4-1 (at home) in round 3, Flaunden (at home) 7-6 in a penalty shoot-out, after a 2-2 draw in round 4 and St Joseph’s (South Oxhey) 6-0 (away) in round 5.

Home Bargains had beaten Dock AFC  5-1 (away), Greenhoffs 2-0 (away), Olympia 6-0 (at home), The Brow 3-1 (at home) and Belle Vue Rovers 2-0 (away).

Highgate Albion were the more accomplished of two very good sides and were unfortunate to lose an exciting and hard-fought match. However, the fates were against them and they were ultimately punished for some rash reactions to events, in the heat of the contest. Consequently, they were reduced to ten players, just before the interval and then to nine, for a crucial period during the second half. They fought bravely and didn’t give up but the odds proved to be insurmountable. Home Bargains won 2-0 with goals in 43rd and 67th minutes.

Home Bargains were awarded a penalty after 2 minutes for a perceived foul. However, Alexandru Gavriloaia, diving to his left, made a superb save from Francis Smith’s kick.

Alex saves Francis Smith's penalty

After some end-to-end play, during which Lewis Toomey, using his pace, made a good saving tackle, Albion began to dominate play.

Isaac Stones cut in past 2 defenders but his shot was blocked. Tage Kennedy and Excellence Muhemba were involved in some fine approach work. Excellence had a shot blocked and Tage fired wide. Tage released Hamza Semakula, who was dispossessed by a massed defence. Billy Hayes fed Lonit Talla, whose high shot was taken by keeper, Germano Mendez.

At the other end, Billy Hayes made an important interception and Thomas Owens set up Francis Smith, whose shot was charged down.

Lewis Toomey played the ball through to Luke Alfono, whose low cross shot was saved by the keeper.

Tage sped up the wing but his cross was cut out at the expense of a corner. Tage was released again, by Lewis Toomey and the result was another corner.

Tage played a low corner kick back to Lonit Talla at the edge of the penalty area but Germano Mendez saved his low shot.

Hanza’s free kick, from wide on the left was touched just wide by Hermes Gbio.

Hermes, who had a great game in defence, was almost immediately involved at the other end, with a timely tackle.

At the other end of the field, Home Bargains’ Joseph Evans hit a low shot past an upright.

As half-time approached, Albion seemed to have the match under control, when disaster struck. Alexandru saved at Dean Shatlock’s feet and was caught by the latter’s challenge. Alexandru was adjudged to have stamped on Shatlock, during the ensuing action and he was shown the red card.

Alex gathers the ball while Dean Shatlock lies on the ground behind him

The origin of this incident was probably an earlier one, when Home Bargains’ Carl Peers deliberately barged into Alex, who was holding the ball, after making a save.

Carl Peers charges into Alex, who is holding the ball

Charles Taylor came on to take Alexandru’s place in goal, with striker, Isaac Stones being sacrificed. Charles dived to his right, to save Carl Peers’ spot kick but unfortunately, the ball ran loose for Peers, who eventually forced it over the line after he had miskicked it. 

Charles Taylor saves Carl Peers' penalty...

... but Peers eventually nets the loose ball

Half-time score: Home Bargains 1 Highgate Albion 0

Despite being down to 10 men, Albion still remained in the match, with their back line of Billy Hayes, Lewis Toomey, Jardell Stirling and Hermes Gbio easily containing the Home Bargains’ attacks. 

Home Bargains’ Dean Shatlock was shown a yellow card for a trip on Excellence Muhemba. Lonit Talla’s resulting free kick into the box was nullified by a flag for offside.

Thomas Owens’ progress up the wing was halted by Lewis Toomey’s interception.

Hamza’s cross shot went past the far upright. Excellence was brought down by Francis Smith. Lonit Talla, annoyed by the apparent leniency of the punishment awarded, protested and was sent to the sin-bin, temporarily reducing Albion to 9 players.

Hamza Semakula’s low drive across goal just missed the far post and also eluded the incoming Excellence Muhemba.

Hamza Semakula (out of picture) fires just wide

Carl Peers ball across the goalmouth evaded Steven Tames.

Tage couldn’t quite reach Jake Cass’ high cross from the right.

Jake Cass' cross just evades Tage Kennedy

The handicap of playing two men short told on Albion in the 67th minute, the 7th minute of Lonit’s enforced period off the field, when Carl Peers nudged home from close range, after Charles Taylor had saved from Brendan O’Brien.

Charles Taylor pushes out Brendan O'Brien's shot...

... but Peers nets Home Bargains' second goal

Charles Taylor then saved Brendan O’Brien’s angled drive.

Charles Taylor saves from Brendan O'Brien (5)

Luke Alfono released Jake Cass, who brought a diving save from the keeper. Jake then took a pass from Excellence and cut in but his shot was blocked.

An apparent trip on Luke Alfono, in the Home Bargains penalty area, was not penalised.

Lonit Talla’s long throw into the penalty box was volleyed over the bar by Solomon Ofori.

Solomon Ofori (26) volleys wide

Goalkeeper, Charles Taylor went up-field to hit a freekick from 40 yards into the Home Bargains box. The ball was scrambled away following a melee.

Charles Taylor saved Matthew Robinson’s low cross shot.

Final score: Home Bargains 2 Highgate Albion 0


Home Bargains: Germano Mendez, Josh Maguire, Francis Foy, Alex Gofton (capt), Lucas Garbe, Joseph Evans, Francis Smith (Lucas Wilson 83 mins), Thomas Owens, Dean Shatlock (Brendan O’Brien 61), Carl Peers and Steven Tames (Matthew Robinson 70).

Unused substitutes: Harvey Passant (GK), Lee Treblinho, David Kelly and Joseph Costello.

Manager: Brian Moogan   Assistant Manager: Joey Gibiliru.

Highgate Albion: Alexandru Gavriloaia, Jardell Stirling, Billy Hayes (Jake Cass 64), Lewis Toomey (Solomon Ofori 83). Hermes Gbio, Luke Alfano, Hamza Semakula, Lonit Talla, Excellence Muhemba, Isaac Stones (Charles Taylor 43 GK), Tage Kennedy (capt).

Unused substitutes: Alvin Kyeremeh, Richard Ennin, Pele Riley and Teddy Stacey.

Manager: Adam Shahein.

Referee: Richie Watkins  Assistant Referees: Andrew Ellis and Scott Chalkley Fourth Official: Liam Corbett.

Attendance: 150.

Report: Jim Taylor

Photography: Chris Benn