Albion’s ‘miracle’ cup comeback
Drama as Sunday stars recover from being 5-1 down to win in pens shootout
28 November, 2019 — By Steve Barnett
Highgate Albion man-of-the-match James Esprit in action against Kenningwell during the London Challenge Cup clash
HIGHGATE Albion are gearing up to tackle a team of YouTubers this weekend after running out victors in “the game of the century”.
The boys from N6 will take on Mile End Baiteze Squad FC – known for their commitment to covering their own matches online – in the quarter-finals of the London Challenge Cup on Sunday at Hackney Marshes.
But it’s a showdown that will only happen thanks to Albion’s “miracle” comeback victory in the previous round against Kenningwell FC.
The recent north London versus south London spectacular, which was played at the St Aloysius sports ground in Highgate, delivered no fewer than 10 goals, and then a penalty shootout.
The last-16 tie started well enough for Albion, who took the lead within minutes of the kick-off thanks to a smart finish from Pele Riley.
But “a combination of poor defending and wonderful finishing” saw Kenningwell battle back to open up a 3-1 advantage at half-time.
In the second half Albion manager Adam Shahein made changes, introducing Rob Magwood in defence and James Esprit up front.
But the tide wasn’t for turning – with an hour gone on the clock the visitors were 5-1 up and storming towards the quarter-finals.
Then came what Albion Reserves manager John Eager described as “the greatest result in Highgate Albion’s 37-year history”.
Substitute Esprit offered a spark when he made it 5-2 with a cheeky backheel from the edge of the box.
Tage Kennedy reduced the arrears further with another well-taken finish, before Solomon Ofori kicked the comeback into overdrive.
First the striker pounced from close range to pull Albion within a goal of their rivals. Then, on 82 minutes, he “turned the dream into reality” as he beat two players before lashing the ball into the top corner to level the scores at 5-5.
There was still time for further drama as the game then went straight to penalties. Bradley Osborne tucked away the first spotkick to give Highgate the lead – an advantage that was strengthened by their goalkeeper, Alexandru Gavriloaia, who saved Kenningwell’s first penalty.
Warren Gladdy, Adam Tripp and Michael Coffey also all kept their composure from the spot as jubilant Albion secured a 4-1 victory to progress.
Manager Shahein said: “In the last half-hour of the game Highgate showed incredible fight and attitude.
“Credit to the Kenningwell lads, they were outstanding, but we showed great grit and determination to get back into the contest.
“The result proves that anything is possible if you never say never and don’t give up.”