Written by Rob Overfield Hits: 1280
Beavers Through To Cup Final
Hampton & Richmond escaped their league troubles for a night for this Middlesex Senior Cup Semi-Final with Isthmian Premier Division side Hendon FC writes James Bartaby.
This game was supposed to see the return to action of goalkeeper Matt Lovett following a sizeable layoff with a knee injury. However, he injured himself in the warm up and couldn't take part in the game, meaning that Craig Ross retained his place between the sticks, and manager Mark Harper only had four substitutes on the bench.
Hampton started the game well, with Ledgister and Tarpey linking up well together, and James Simmonds linking well from midfield. Ledgister had the first chance as he got on the end of a Tarpey pass, but could only poke the ball wide at full stretch. They wouldn't be denied for long, though, as they took the lead in the sixth minute. Another good attack down the right saw Lewis Ferrell hit a low ball across the edge of the Hendon penalty area. Simmonds dummied, and the ball ended up at the feet of the excellent Esmond James, who controlled the ball before placing his shot into the bottom corner of the net.
The Beavers kept up the pressure, and got rewarded with a second goal just five minutes later. Neil Jenkins hit a stunning free kick from all of thirty yards which cannoned off post and bar before ending up at the feet of Ledgister, and he had the simple task of smashing in the rebound for his first goal since rejoining the club on a permanent deal from Sutton United. After this, Hendon settled and got themselves back into the match on 17 minutes. A cross from the right was met by the head of Carl McCluskey, and the winger beat Ross to halve the deficit. A minute later, and McCluskey cut in from the right before blazing a shot over the bar.
Reece Jones was having a good game in the centre of midfield, and he almost played Tarpey in, but Laurencin, the Hendon keeper, was quick of his line to shut out the onrushing striker. Ledgister could have restored the two goal advantage ten minutes before the break, as he got on the end of a Simmonds cross, but looped his header over the bar. At half time, the score was Hampton & Richmond 2 Hendon 1.
Hendon made their first substitution for the start of the second half, taking off James Archer and replacing him with the brilliantly named Tico Gavi-Mihedi. And it was the visitors who had the first effort on goal, a McCluskey effort which was blocked following a poor defensive clearance. Hampton immediately went up the other end and won themselves a penalty for a high foul on James. Up stepped Tarpey to restore the two goal advantage, but he blazed his spotkick well over the bar, giving the visitors some belief that they could get back on level terms. Shortly after, Tarpey had another effort, but his left foot shot went horribly wide.
The second half was really coming to life, and both sides had their chances. A long ranger from James Fisher went straight at Beavers keeper Craig Ross, and on the counter attack, Tarpey hit a cracking right foot effort that moved in the air before Laurencin saved with his chest (the ball hit him rather than him saving it)! One possible concern for Hampton is the withdrawal of the influential James twenty minutes before the end. He look in some discomfort as he was replaced by Joe Turner. And it was Turner who could have put the tie to bed just a few minutes after coming on. Tarpey twisted and turned in the area, eventually getting the ball onto his favoured left foot. His shot was well saved by Laurencin, but Turner blasted the rebound over from twelve yards.
Charlie Moone came on to replace the excellent Ledgister, while former Arsenal and Bradford striker Isiah Rankin came on for Hendon. With just two minutes left, Hendon looked like they had forced extra time when Michael Peacock netted from a corner, but there was still time for one last twist. A long ball forward caused havoc in the Hendon backline, and the loose ball fell to Tarpey who lobbed it over everyone from twenty five yards into an unguarded net. It was just reward for the striker, who had endured a frustrating night in front of goal.
The Beavers will now face Wealdstone in the final of the Middlesex Senior Cup, to be played on Easter Monday at Uxbridge FC.
James 6, Ledgister 11
Ross, Ferrell, Jenkins, Jeffreys, Inman, Huggins, James, Jones, Tarpey, Simmonds, Ledgister
Bench: Turner, Hickey, Moone, Andrews.