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Backheel stunner in cup joy for Albion

Sunday league side come from a goal down to reach the final four

13 December, 2019 — By Steve Barnett

Midfielder Rob Buckley put in a man-of-the-match display for Highgate

THE heroes of Highgate Albion FC will kickstart their campaign in 2020 by setting their sights on “a massive” cup semi-final against a rival ­Camden club.

That’s after the boys from N6 beat a team of YouTubers to reach the final four of the London Sunday Challenge Cup.

Albion celebrated the start of December by netting a 3-1 win over Mile End Baiteze Squad FC – known for their commitment to covering their own matches online – in the quarter-finals of the prestigious competition at Hackney Marshes.]

Albion’s reward is a semi-final showdown against Finchley-based Gower Allstars, who beat Orpington Rovers 5-4 on penalties after their quarter-final tie finished goalless.

Rob Buckley, who marshalled the midfield against Baiteze in a man-of-the-match display, said: “Beating Baiteze is a great day for the club and the most exciting in its history. To come up against one of the top teams in London and put in a performance like that was incredible. We had a job to do and luckily we got it done.”

Highgate were “seen as underdogs by many people” ahead of the tie against Baiteze, so when they went a goal down early in the second half fans feared for the worst.

But just after the hour mark Adam Shahein’s side found the goal their dominance deserved as good work down the right from Soloman Ofori resulted in a controlled finish from substitute Lion Docja.

With all of 10 minutes left on the clock things went from good to great for Albion when superb work in the box from James Esprit enabled Ofori to get off a rasping shot which was palmed away to safety.

Unfortunately for Baiteze the spectacular goalline save was made by a defender, leading to a red card for deliberate handball and Albion being awarded a penalty.

Under immense pressure Bradley Osborne stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way.

And with Baiteze throwing men forward in search of an equaliser, and now down to nine men following a sin-bin offence, Highgate wrapped up the win in style as – for the second London Cup clash in a row – “big man” Esprit scored a cheeky backheel.

Reflecting on the win, Albion manager Shahein said: “We showed that Highgate have the strength and depth to compete with the best Sunday league teams in London and beat them.

“We now move on to a semi-final with Gower Allstars in the new year where we will aim to make our first ever ­London cup final.”


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