Wealdstone Under 18s 0-4 North Greenford Under 18s
Wealdstone’s youth team were knocked out of the Middlesex Jeff Ritson Senior Cup at The Vale tonight by a resilient and well-drilled North Greenford side, who took just 26 minutes to storm into a 3-goal lead.
As is the case for youth football, it’s the mental side of the game that mobilises the raw talent. Mental attitudes are also key when you meet one of the firmest of football clichés - ‘a freezing cold Wednesday night in December’. That was certainly the case tonight as Wealdstone’s youth team took on North Greenford in their quarter-final of the Middlesex Senior Cup.
With the early stages of the match showing intent on Wealdstone’s part, it was North Greenford who displayed effectiveness and intelligence on the ball. After the warning of a goal-line scramble, a wonderful looping effort over Joe Ringer startled Stones slightly with their pre-match confidence running high and on 19 minutes it was 2-0 to the visitors. Cutting inside from the right side and striking the ball with force, Ringer initially saved the shot before dropping the ball over his head in a calamitous De Gea like mistake.
North Greenford were playing with freedom, confidence and showed no sign of slowing. Their underdog status was almost driving them to succeed with terrific discipline and positional awareness. They made it 3-0 when a free kick on the edge of the box presented them with a chance to strike, and the ball was smacked into the bottom right hand corner on 26 minutes, the game looked out of sight now.
Wealdstone peered through the gaps with Femi Azeez and Connor Maher, but failed to create spark or any slight moment of encouragement. Perhaps over-confident assumptions played into North Greenford’s hands but the visitors were excellent in the first half.
Ideas were scarce for Stones. Captain Luke Massingham was very late in his challenge early into the second half and got away with a yellow card, one of the number of fouls committed by the home team. Approaching the hour mark, Wealdstone often used the overlapping run of Lucas Sheehan to cross, but couldn’t pick out a blue shirt more often than not. Growing frustration led to shots from a far, sailing over and North Greenford had it all too easy.
With an hour played, it was the goal of the match that made it 4-0 to the supposed underdogs, North Greenford. Drifting in from the left and evading the back four, the ball was stroked into the bottom left corner in a fine run to give North Greenford everything but the win with no less than 30 minutes left. Wealdstone were disheartened and a beaten side returning for the second half.
It should be a fair assessment to say the first 26 minutes of the match, the mental side required for the match-up was left behind in the dressing room. To pull the result back from such a deficit would be sensational and therefore quite unlikely. The result drifted across the border of inevitable and Stones were visibly disappointed with the manner of their performance.
Unfortunately, the match contained some negative circumstances as a North Greenford player was stretchered off with what appeared to be a broken arm, although it was unclear. This happened to be an overshadowing disappointment for the away side who were quite simply superb in their performance.
Wealdstone's best period of the match was in fact the last 10 minutes, with a 'nothing to lose' mentality and playing with 10 men. Under 18's Coach Paul Massingham will be disappointed with the way his team left themselves with a mountain to climb.