Hayes & Yeading United progressed to the final of the Middlesex Premier Cup at Beaconsfield Road on Monday evening with a goal in each half from Robert Gradwell seeing off Rayners Lane.
United started well and could have gone ahead as early as the second minute when a long punt from Charlie Wassmer at the back saw defender Tom Farrell allow the ball to go over his head to Tom Woodbridge who advanced on goal only to be denied by Lane keeper James Christian who blocked his effort before pouncing on the loose ball.
Just three minutes later and it was the visitors who could have taken the lead. Skipper Paul Leslie’s corner from the right was allowed to travel across the United area to Simeon Mitchell at the far post, his sweetly struck volley being well held by Chris Baker in the United goal.
This was however to be an isolated chance for the visitors as United began to dominate possession. With 12 minutes played, Mark Doyle slid a free-kick to Sami El-Abd who broke into the box and pulled the ball back from the bye-line only to see it cut out by the hand of a sliding defender. Referee Englebretson immediately pointed to the spot and El-Abd stepped up only to see his kick pushed away by Christian diving to his left.
Wassmer headed over from an Ashley Barnes corner before the deadlock was broken midway through the half. Josh Andrew found space to cross from the right, his centre sailed over Christian before coming back off the face of the crossbar, Gradwell was quickest to react and despite seeing his first effort saved at point blank range by the impressive Christian, when the ball came back to the United striker again he forced it home from close range.
United continued to press for a second, Gradwell beat his marker on the right before corssing low to Woodbridge at the near post but his effort was just the wrong side of the post. Just seconds later El-Abd made inroads from the left before pulling the ball back to Andrew who struck a drive that Christian did extremely well to keep out.
Christian continued to deny United a second, Gradwell knocked the ball down to Sean Roberts who hit a first time shot that was grabbed by the Lane keeper. Gradwell should also have added to his initial dstrike just before half time as he headed wide after good approach play from Barnes and Andrew.
The second half was to have far fewer chances than the first but the issuing of two red cards managed to keep the notebook ticking over!
The first chance after the break fell to the visitors when Leslie sent a long ball down the left to Nick Barrs but he could not control his angled shot as Baker approached and the ball went over the United goal.
Just after the hour mark Dean Worman tried his luck from 30 yards but Christian gathered easily and just a few minutes later the first red card came out. Andrew broke away down the right and after one player had tried twice to bring him down without success, a scything tackle from Terry Chamberlain achieved it’s goal, bringing with it however a second yellow card and subsequent red for the Rayners Lane midfielder. United substitute Ivan Sputaj stepped up to take the resultant free-kick but Christian was equal to it.
The imbalance in player numbers did not last long however as minutes later United’s Ashley Barnes questioned a decision too vehemently and was promptly shown a straight red card, presumably for foul and abusive language to the referee.
The deciding event came with just a couple of minutes remaining when Gradwell chased down a weak back-pass to Christian, the keeper got to the ball first only for his attempted clearance to cannon off the challenging Gradwell and straight into the Rayners Lane net.
A stoppage time effort from former Bridgwater Town defender Ingus Slampe was dealt with by Christian and United moved into the final of the Premier Cup for the first time.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Website United Man of the Match: Sean Roberts.