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Rams Late late show stuns the saints to lift The Michael Bidmead Challenge Cup

Suburban Football League Cup

Michael Bidmead challenge cup final

Thursday 27th April 2023

St Albans City reserves 2 [1] Beaconsfield Town 2 [4]

Honeycroft Stadium Uxbridge 

Beaconsfield Town U23 lifted the Michael Bidmead challenge cup on Thursday night at a rain and wind battered Honeycroft Stadium Uxbridge after holding their nerve in a penalty shootout again St Albans City reserves.

The Rams carried the momentum into the shootout after Jacob Wilson powered home a towering far post header from 6 yards to complete The Ram's recovery from a two-goal deficit in the 90th minute. After the game seemed to be slipping away from them. Leaving St Albans shell-shocked from seeing the cup ripped from their grasp.

The penalties were no contest as the nerveless Rams converted all four of their spot kicks and The Saints managed only 1 as Lorenzo Johnson blasted their first kick over the bar and Sam Negus plunged to his left to turn away Lewis Cousins’ effort setting up Anton Matthews, who survived the nerves of hunting for the penalty spot in the mud and Saints keeper Liam Gauthier’s attempt at mind games, before calmly sending the keeper the wrong way to kick off the Beaconsfield celebrations.   

A marked contrast from two hours earlier when the evening started about as badly as you could imagine for The Rams. Ben Ssango gave St Albans the lead with their first possession catching Beaconsfield cold to slot home after less than 30 seconds.

Beaconsfield retained their composure and battled their way into the game as weather conditions deteriorated wildly but credit to the Uxbridge ground staff, there was no similar deterioration of the pitch which held up superbly despite the relentless deluge.

In a half of few chances Sam Negus made two fine saves to prevent St Albans, with the elements in their favour, extending the lead. The Rams, who probably shaded possession and territory as the half wore on lacked the cutting edge to extend his opposite number Liam Gauthier

Half time 1-0

After the break, The Rams increased the pressure and intensity as time ticked by but the Saints held firm and thought they had doubled their lead only to see the effort ruled out for offside.

In the 66th minute, the game seemed to swing decisively in the Saint's favour. A Rams corner was headed down by skipper Kyle Brooks and fell for JJ Tinde jnr beyond the far post. His low shot from a narrow-angle was brilliantly blocked by Kieran Gauthier, George Morrall picked up possession and launched the counter with Beaconsfield struggling to recover the ball was fed into Ssango who scored his second of the night from close range.

St Albans didn't exactly switch off but their body language and game management increasingly suggested that they felt the job was done and a professional 20 minutes would be enough. As The Rams increasingly pressed to get back in the game The Saints had another counter attack effort ruled out for off side nut were increasingly happy to sit in and hit The Rams oin the counter.

Darren Edgar introduced Francis Ketter for Brandon Rooks and the wide man immediately made an impact with his pace and strength stretching a tiring defence. It was his cross that found its way to JJ Tinde Jr 15 yards out as Aiden Walsh slipped. With Walsh attempting to recover and Kieran Gauthier stretching to cover Tinde Jnr fired home to give The Rams the foothold in the game they were battling for.

Ketter, Deante Gibson, and Harry Ford continued to make inroads down the right and the Saints' defence began to look increasingly stretched but Keeper Liam Gauthier stepped up to the challenge, denying Tinde jnr a second with a perfectly timed sliding save on the edge of the box and commanding his six-yard box with several flying punches as Beaconsfield pressed.

In truth The Rams equaliser came from an avoidable corner as Gauthier called for a routine take from another right wing cross but saw the ball headed up in the air by a defender and was forced to retreat and punch the ball, under pressure, to safety for the corner. The marking for the kick was a slack and as Wilson rose at the far post his nearest challenger was Anton Matthews with Tinde Jnr also unmarked beyond the far post.

Wilson shrugged them all off as he rose head and shoulders above the crowd and planted a firm downward header that flashed past Gauthier as it bounced up into the roof of the net.

The Rams continued to press for a winner that would have seemed deeply improbable in the first hour but Tinde Jnr, Gibson saw shots blocked whllst Ketters’ late low pull back was deflected to safety off Kieran Gauthier’s trailing heel.

When the impeccable Mr Mark Edwards blew for full time you always suspected that The Ram's momentum would carry them through but the margin of victory was a shock.

Harsh on St Albans, as penalties always are on the losers but they played very well indeed for over an hour and created enough chances to kill the game before Beaconsfields’ late heroics. Sometimes it’s just not your day.


Beaconsfield Town U23:

Sam Negus, Harry Ford, Oscar Lucey, Jacob Wilson, Anton Matthews, Kyle Brooks, Ben Peters, George Tucker, John Tinde jnr, Brandon Rooks, Deante Gibson.

Nassor Abdalla, Salvador O’Brien, Kayne Connor, Francis Ketter, Omar Talaste


St Albans Ciry reserves:

Liam Gauthier, Aiden Walsh, JaheimBakinson, Kieran Gauthier, Dylan Joyce, Lewis Cousins, Luca Cardines, George Morrall, Lorenzo Johnson, Olu Lawal, Ben Ssengo

L’Shiay Aguh, James Bone, Joseph Beardon, Tom Pinkham, Kye Scott, Charlie Taylor

Referee -   Mark Edwards

Assistants  - Martin Oliver, Barry Kyriacou,

Fourth official - Ian Skull


All images ©Neale Blackburn 2023

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