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Ashbourne ease aside dogged Ealing

22 Feb 2018

Friendly match – 20 February 2018

Ealing Independent College 0-3 Ashbourne College

Team: Danial; James, Jack; Brent, Josh, Hakim, Luc; Trialist

Ealing’s last meeting with Ashbourne, their first since a major team rebuilding, saw an unmistakable gap in class between the sides and a complete mismatch. This time however, the men in white proved themselves to be a capable match for their opponents, and pushed the blues to the end in a hard-fought tussle, where the final score flattered the winners somewhat.

Having arrived at the game without regular ‘keeper Abdullah and losing Chifum to a late illness, Ealing only had seven players to put out for the match. Fabio Carpene, the Ashbourne manager, made a laudable gesture of loaning a substitute to the whites. He took on a role up front, while Hakim and Josh played in wide midfield, and Brent and Luc made up centre midfield. James and Jack formed the defence, while Danial helped the side by reverting to his old position in goal. The match opened at a cracking pace, with Ashbourne stringing together some fast and accurate passing. Ealing responded to this by pursuing their opponents with an admirable keenness, tracking the blues closely and biting into tackles. Starved of space, Ashbourne were restricted to long shots, and a number of errors started to creep into their play.

On the break, Ealing forced a couple of excellent chances. After intercepting a stray pass around halfway, Brent played in Hakim with an accurate though ball. Had the beanpole winger raised his head to notice the oncoming keeper, or taken a better first touch, Ealing could have taken the lead. As it happened, the Ashbourne stopper smothered his clumsy effort. Brent’s pressing then forced another mistake, and he tried his luck himself this time from distance, curling a dipping drive which forced the blues goalie into an unorthodox but effective stop with his knees. As it happened, it was Ashbourne who took the initiative in an even opening half, their tall number six striking a well placed shot beyond Danial having first hit both posts. Urged to keep their heads up by coach Allan Cairns, the whites continued to compete with the same dogged vivacity which has characterised their last few matches. Coach Cairns was pleased to say the least.

With the game still in the balance at 1-0, Ealing continued to press their opponents. As the second half progressed however, and their fitness levels diminished as they chased, their willingness started to wain. Where marking had been tight in the first half, Ashbourne players started to find more space. James seemed to act as a one man defence time and again, but it was a matter of time before the blues made one of their chances tell. Unfortunately, Danial, who had made some timely interventions in the first period, made a complete hash of trying to keep out a shot from 8 yards out with his feet. He could do little more than scuff the ball in to the corner.

A brief glint of an opportunity fell to the trialist, but his powerful run produced no end product, and soon after, Ashbourne finished off a decent passing move with an effective finish to lengthen their lead. Ealing did not lie down however. The last five minutes were punctuated with desire to scrap and fight as though their survival depended on it. A keenly fought encounter, played in good spirit throughout, ended with respectful handshakes.

The whites now have only three matches remaining this season.

Man of the match – Brent - Busy and tenacious, Brent showed excellent leadership in a tireless display, and shone despite Ealing’s second loss in a row.

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