Cup Final Heartbreak for Cornwall

Heads held high despite narrow defeat to Middlesex in Final

The FA County Youth Cup Final 2017

Middlesex U18 2 - 1 Cornwall U18

Saturday 1st April 2017

Barnet FC

In a very even game between two well matched sides it was Middlesex who won The FA County Youth Cup, defeating Cornwall 2-1. The Cornish lads displayed all the attributes that got them to the final, spirit, determination and skill but ultimately on this occasion we didn't quite get the run of the ball and a clinical Middlesex edged it.

Cornwall, who had played a settled side most of the season were missing the injured left back James Heywood due to injury which could have had an unsettling effect but Max Roberts, a centre half by trade stepped up and had a solid game, otherwise it was the same team who started in the Quarter Final and Semi-Final, led by skipper Charlie Hambly who was making his 21st appearance for Cornwall.

Pre-match national anthem out the way and the first few minutes saw both teams settle well, a couple of dangerous crosses from Middlesex were well dealt with and Cornwall were looking lively, Josh Penrose especially had Middlesex on the back foot with a couple of mazy runs. Just as things were settling down though Middlesex took the lead after 9 minutes, after winning a soft free kick on the left wing they capitalised, a wicked in-swinging delivery evaded everyone except the on-rushing Middlesex midfielder who bundled home from 3 yards. How would Cornwall respond?

The answer was emphatically and almost immediately we levelled, Cameron Turner launched the ball forward from kick off and the Middlesex defenders loose header broke to Olly Walker, he played a lovely one two with Matt Buchan and whipped in a delightful cross which found Josh Penrose at the back post who fired home to level.

The rest of the half was played at a high pace as both teams looked to assert their authority, the back four for Cornwall were largely comfortable with Josh Otto particularly tenacious in the tackle. Joel Allen and Charlie Hambly keeping a talented Middlesex front line in check whilst Roberts was snuffing out threat from the right wing.

Middlesex were playing some nice stuff but apart from a couple of set pieces and shots from distance were kept at arms length. Cornwall themselves were looking dangerous, Joe Adkins and Matt Buchan working hard to hold up the ball and look to get things going moving forward. Adkins came close to giving Cornwall the lead on the half hour mark, a long ball by Allen out of defence found Buchan, his hold up play was superb and he teed up Adkins whose left footed drive from 20 yards produced a fantastic finger tip save from the Middlesex Keeper.

Next it was Middlesex who threatened from a set piece, a whipped in corner evaded everyone and looked like dropping in at the far post but Otto rose well to clear off the line, on the stroke of half time though Middlsex regained the lead and again it was a set piece, this time a left footed whipped in Corner from the right was met by the head of the Middlesex centre midfielder who rose to nod home, it was almost even worse for Cornwall a minute later from another corner but Otto again cleared off the line. With that escape the referee bought a pulsating half to a close.

The second half started in a similar fashion to the first half with both teams probing but not creating anything clear cut, Harrison and Turner in central midfield were bust and industrious trying to make things happen and push Cornwall on. As the half wore progressed Cornwall threw a little more caution to the wind with Walker on the left wing becoming more influential, a couple of strong runs ending with cynical fouls.

However as the game opened up with Cornwall chasing the game Middlesex were always going to have chances and Gwillam had to be on full alert to tip a good drive wide of the goal, a couple of goal mouth scrambles were cleared and it was heart in the mouth stuff at times. Cornwall still attacked though, the introduction of Tiago Soares had a positive impact as he gave a different dimension to the play, dropping deep and linking up play well, two great runs were halted at the last and a dangerous ball across the face of goal just eluded Buchan.

Just as Cornwall were building up a head of steam a Middlesex player went down with cramp for 5 minutes which took the sting out the game a little bit, we entered the final few minutes and Cornwall really pressed, Jack Rapsey and Jack Webber added impetus and energy but Middlesex stood firm, a dangerous Ed Harrison free kick evaded the Cornwall attackers and drifted wide ,a couple of breaks in the penalty area fell for them and some last ditch defending meant that despite 6 minutes of injury time it was Middlesex who held firm to win The FA County Youth Cup.

Middlesex were a good team who edged a very close encounter which on another day could have gone the other way, but no matter what the result the Cornwall boys can hold their heads high.

Cornwall Team - Luke Gwillam (Camelford), Josh Otto (Mousehole), Max Roberts (RNAS Culdrose), Joel Allen (Penzance), Charlie Hambly (Camelford), Cameron Turner (Newquay), Josh Penrose (Camelford), Ed Harrison (Camelford), Matt Buchan (Helston Athletic), Joe Adkins (Camelford), Olly Walker (Falmouth Town)

Subs - Tiago Soares (Godolphin Atlantic) for Joe Adkins, Jack Webber (Porthleven) for Max Roberts, Jack Rapsey (Newquay) for Josh Otto - Subs not used - James Heywood (Camelford), Dan Stedman (Wendron United) Alfie Flack (AFC St Austell), Archie Condie (West Cornwall)

Video of the final (Part 1) (Part 2 to follow) thanks to Mark Huckle at Piran Films

Final Thoughts

Two years ago when Cornwall FA were considering not having an U18 Representative team the outcry from the Cornish football public was huge, due to support and sponsorship the team was given a reprieve. We did not think that within 2 years the team would be making history and reaching The FA County Youth Cup Final for the first time in 73 years. Representative football has always been strong and well supported in Cornwall and recently under Tommy Matthews and James Ross there has been success and great teams produced.

What did happen though when Glynn Hooper took the job on in 2015 was a renewed spirit and energy to make the most of the reprieve. Glynn has created a squad that whilst hugely talented and skilful has a strong bond and team ethic, we have some fantastic players but the team comes first, Alan Yendell as assistant, Coaches Dennis Annear, Jamie Day, Andrew Graham, John Fabby and Phyiso Toby Wellington support Glynn so well with this and it has been a pleasure to watch this group of players and coaches make history. I think what sums up the spirit and desire to play for Cornwall is Helston striker Matt Buchan, yes he overslept for a trip to Gloucestershire and missed the bus, but instead of sulking and going back to bed, he got a lift to Exeter where he caught the bus up, took a bit of stick and then bagged a brace.

We have raised the profile of football in the County, with the amazing support of Dave Deacon, Caroline Hargreaves and Mark Huckle (Piran Films) giving unprecedented exposure to the team. The parents and public have come out to support in good numbers and to have 250 people at our Semi-Final (highest attendance in the competition bar the final was incredible) and was noted by The FA Competitions Chairman in his pre-match speech before the final at how great it was to see.

Special thanks here also go to Steve Massey, scout, supporter and commentator, Argyle Community Trust, May Whetter & Grose and Pro-Direct for generous sponsorship all season and for the final.

Whilst defeat in the final was disappointing it is important to recognise the achievement of getting to the final when considering the teams were up against, Counties with many more players available to select from, greater financial support and facilities available to them.

The future is definitely bright for Cornish Football, of the 18 players who were in the squad for the final 9 are still available for next year, add to this many more talented players who are coming through and it may not be 73 years until our next final, and whilst Glynn Hooper and his management team have earned a little break it won't be long before trials are underway for 2017/18. Who wouldn't want to play for the 2nd best County Rep side in the country?

A final thank you to the outgoing players who have represented the County fantastically. Charlie Hambly with 21 caps (a record) has been a great leader this season, the other Camels of Ed Harrison, James Heywood, Josh Penrose and Joe Adkins, Helston's Matt Buchan, the Newquay duo of Cam Turner and Jack Rapsey and Max Roberts of RNAS Culdrose. Good luck and best wishes from all at Cornwall FA


Follow us on Twitter Image
Fing us on Facebook image