By Jim Taylor, Middlesex FA
It was our pleasure to entertain Huntingdonshire FA at North Greenford United FC on Sunday last in the annual under-18 match for the Harold Whiddon Memorial Trophy. This was the first of two pre-season matches for our under-18 team. These matches are vital preparation for the competitive season ahead for players and management alike.
The first quarter of the match was fairly low key as the players from both teams had problems adjusting to the very warm conditions and there was very little early goalmouth action.
The first meaningful scoring attempt came in the 24th minute when a long free kick from the right, taken by Middlesex’s Andrew Brennan, was headed just wide by advancing centre back, Luke Neville.
We again went close two minutes later, when the shot following a penetrating run by winger Shaq Hippolyte-Patrick was well saved by visiting keeper, Josh Bennis (Alconbury Colts), at the expense of a corner.
Middlesex took the lead after 28 minutes when Luke Neville again went forward and nodded down another free kick from Andrew Brennan for Cyril O’Cansey to net from close range.
Cyril almost put us further ahead five minutes later but his fierce drive was parried by keeper Bennis. However, Huntingdonshire equalised after 38 minutes. Overlapping full back, Alex Weston (Wisbech U18) shot low across goal past keeper ZakiOualah’s finger tips into the far corner of the home net.
Middlesex had two chances to regain the lead before the interval. Kevin Tauta’s fierce drive was well held by the keeper and a hard hit low ball across goal by Flavio Tavares was sliced over the crossbar by a defender.
Half time score: Middlesex 1 Huntingdonshire 1
After a quiet opening to the second period, Shaq Hippolyte-Patrick broke through in the 57th minute to draw another good save from Josh Bennis.
Middlesex applied a lot of pressure during the second period but were unable to create very many clear cut chances, due largely to Huntingdonshire’s defensive work. Huntingdonshire were very dangerous on the break and several times caught Middlesex shorthanded at the back.
After 65 minutes, Kaine Felix (St Neots Town) broke away and fired narrowly wide of the home goal. Seven minutes later the Middlesex keeper saved bravely at the same player’s feet.
Middlesex’s best chances came when Joseph Jones’s header was tipped over by the keeper in the 73rd minute and Shaq headed onto the crossbar after 84 minutes.
Final score: Middlesex 1 Huntingdonshire 1 (Trophy shared)
In his welcoming speech, Middlesex Youth Life President, Graham Rigby rightly thanked match referee, Chris Potter and his Middlesex colleagues, Dan Stonehouse and Paul Mitchell for their excellent performances, Barbara Bivens and her North Greenford United FC colleagues for staging the event and the parents, families and friends of the players for their valued support. This was endorsed by Mark Frost the Huntingdonshire FA Secretary, in his response.