Hendon 0 Staines Town 0: Greens claim Middlesex Senior Cup after shootout success
PUBLISHED: 08:56 18 April 2018 | UPDATED: 17:04 18 April 2018
Middlesex Senior Cup final: Hendon 0 Staines Town 0 (Hendon win 5-4 on penalties)
Hendon won the Middlesex Senior Cup for a record 16th time as Tom Lovelock produced a magnificent triple-save in the 88th minute of a stalemated 90 against Staines Town and then made a confident block of Elliott Buchanan’s 10th and final spot-kick in the penalty shoot-out at Uxbridge on Tuesday night.
Both teams have had very busy schedules in recent weeks and the Greens made four changes from the eleven which drew with Kingstonian at Leatherhead at the weekend. Full-backs James Hammond and Ollie Sprague made way for Sam Murphy and Luke Tingey, while Dan Uchechi and Matt Ball replaced Zak Joseph and Josh Walker.
Staines Town, meanwhile, were forced to make a change just before the teams came out for the kick-off as Sam Hatton picked up an injury and limped away. The late replacement saw Elliot Baptiste start the game, wearing 12, suggesting that this was actually a substitution (and the Swans made only two other changes, the second of which was announced as their final one).
As a contest, it was an interesting and close one, but rather lacking in great excitement. Murphy, Tingey, Rian Bray and Arthur Lee were normally stronger than Jonathan Hippolyte, Mo Bettamer and Nathaniel Olawole, and most attempts on goal came from outside the penalty area.
It was a similar story at the other end as Ashley Nathaniel-George and Dan Uchechi tried hard to set up chances for Niko Muir, but Josh Webb, Tyrell Miller-Rodney, Ben Martin and Emmanuel Udoji ensured Conor Hudnott had little to do.
Baptiste had Staines’s first opening, but he put his effort over the crossbar. Uchechi then found himself running towards an undermanned Swans penalty area. Maybe because he has played so little in the past few weeks, he didn’t have the confidence to take on Hudnott, because he passed out to the wing and what had been a burgeoning chance dissipated disappointingly,
The goalkeepers were called into action midway through the half. Bettamer fired a shot which Lovelock saved and gathered the rebound before a Staines player could react.
When Hudnott parried a powerful shot from Murphy, the ball went high in the air. Hendon fans screamed in vain for a penalty as the goalkeeper appeared to barge his way through Walker and Casey Maclaren to reach the ball. It was the sort of incident which, if a penalty is awarded, the defending team is disappointed, and if it is not, then the attacking side feels hard done by.
In first half stoppage time, both teams had good chances. First Hippolyte had time to shoot, but he fired wastefully over the bar. On the bench, Hippolyte senior, the manager – an accomplished goalscorer for many years – was frustrated on two counts, as father and coach, at his son’s profligacy.
From the goal-kick Hendon then launched a dangerous raid which ended with Hudnott making a save from Nathaniel-George. A few minutes earlier, a run from Nathaniel-George had ended with him in a heap and he appeared to injure a tender part as he stumbled to the group without contact.
In the second half, Hendon had slightly the better of the play, but chances remained at a premium. The shooting remained largely ineffective, still from mainly long range.
With 15 minutes to go, Olawole got the better of the Hendon central defence and had only Lovelock to beat. The goalkeeper spread himself well and won the contest against the striker to keep the game goalless.
When Nathaniel-George teased and beat Webb, he created an opening for himself, but Hudnott was equal to the shot and the status quo remained.
By now, Baptiste had been replaced by Kamal McEwan, but the substitute struggled to make an impact. Hendon responded by sending on Josh Walker, for Ball, and Sprague, for skipper Casey Maclaren. Sprague filled a midfield role, while Hendon had effectively four strikers, with Walker joining Nathaniel-George, Uchechi and Muir.
In the 80th minute, Hendon forced a corner which was won by Lee. His effort was blocked and the follow-up from Bray, under pressure from Bayley Brown, somehow hit Udoji, who was just behind the leaping Bray.
With five minutes of normal time remaining, Staines leading goalscorer Elliot Buchanan came on for Olawole, while midfielder Keagan Cole saw his first action for exactly two months, since he was injured against Thurrock. The player to go off was Tingey, moving Sprague back to left-back.
Walker had two quick chances to win the game for Hendon. First he just about beat Hudnott to the ball as it bounced just outside the penalty area. He tried to control it, but Webb came across to dispossess him.
Then Walker slipped past Udoji and ran towards goal, though the ball rolled slightly away from him as Nathaniel George made himself available for a pass. As Muir joined in, the ball found a Staines defender and was cleared.
But the best chance of the match fell to Staines in the 88th minute. Three players combined down the Staines right side and when the ball was played into the penalty area, Ben Martin, who had joined the attack for a free-kick , and headed powerfully goalwards.
Lovelock flung himself into the ball’s path and pushed it aside. Bettamer came in for what seemed the simplest of tap-ins, but there was Lovelock again to make the block.
This block landed at the feet of Udoji, whose strike was, once more, blocked by Lovelock as almost as soon as he struck it. More than that, the ball was cleared downfield and Walker was suddenly running in on Hudnott with Staines defenders trailing in his wake.
Walker, however, could do little as the wind seemed to take the ball away from him as he was about to shoot and a defender made a clearance at the expense of a corner. The corner was half-cleared and Jake Eggleton smashed the loose ball inches wide of the target with Hudnott beaten.
The final whistle signalled an immediate penalty shoot-out and it was Hendon who went first. Murphy stepped up and confidently sent Hudnott the wrong way. Mo Bettamer levelled the score with a low and hard strike which Lovelock, who guessed correctly, could not reach.
Walker went next and, once more Hudnott dived one way and the ball went the other. Dan Brown’s strike was hard and true and Lovelock, at full stretch, could not get a touch on the ball.
The penalty takers were certainly dominating as Nathaniel George sent Hudnott the wrong way for a third consecutive spot-kick. Josh Webb emulated the three Hendon penalty-takers as Lovelock this time guessed incorrectly.
At 3–3, the pressure was certainly mounting, but Uchechi kept his nerve to beat Hudnott. And it became 4–4 when Tyrell Miller-Rodney made no mistake. Up walked the Greens’ regular penalty-taker, Muir, and he was not fazed by the pressure to leave it up to Buchanan to force sudden-death.
The most experienced of the 10 penalty-takers was the one who failed. There was neither enough power nor direction to beat Lovelock, whose firm parry sent the ball back to Buchanan’s feet. He netted the rebound, but in penalty shoot-outs, they don’t count and, a few minutes later, Hendon collected the Middlesex Senior Cup for the first time since beating Uxbridge at Yeading in 2004.
Hendon: Lovelock, Murphy, Tingey (Cole 86), Lee, Bray, Eggleton, Nathaniel-George, MacLaren (Sprague 79), Uchechi, Muir, Ball (Walker 79).
Subs: Joseph, Hammond.
Staines: Hudnott, Webb, Miller-Rodney, Brown, Martin, Udoji, Hatton (Baptiste 46 (McEwan 60)), Brown, Olawole (Buchanan 86), Bettamer, Hippolyte.
Subs: Nembhard, Brewer.
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