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Champions come back from the dead to maintain unbeaten record

05 Dec 2016

League match – 2 December 2016

Ealing Independent College 4-4 DLD (B)

Team: Sultan; Zak, Ramone; Lucas; Kai, Hamza; Georges, Isaga

Goals: Georges (pen), Zak 2, Isaga

One could ask why Ealing started the game so cold on Friday night. Perhaps playing on a different evening after a long week of studies. Perhaps the completely changed opposition team from the one they had beaten so comprehensively in the first game of the season. Perhaps the complacency of believing that this would be a routine victory over the side second bottom in the standings. Perhaps missing key players Egli and Jamie for the second game in a row. For whatever reason, slack tackling, passing and goalkeeping allowed DLD into a 3-0 lead within 15 minutes, with the league leaders going behind for the first time this season, and staring defeat in the face. It was, without doubt the worst performance coach Allan Cairns had seen from his side in a long time.

In an eight minute spell however, the champions showed that they were made of stern stuff and fought back in a manner which evoked Liverpool’s comeback against Milan in the 2005 European Cup final. Needing an invitation back into the game, the stocky DLD goalie fumbled a shot by Hamza and scarpered after it. In doing so, he rolled out of the box and placed his hand outside the line while holding the ball. Ealing had a penalty, which Georges powered home to reduce the arrears. 2 minutes later, DLD were penalised for a foul on Kai. To be fair this had characterised much the game so far. Despite multiple fouls, mainly from the number 10 and number 7, incredibly only one yellow card had been handed out to a DLD player, an inconsistent approach by the referee, having booked Ramone for a slight nudge a few minutes earlier, his only foul so far. Zak took the free kick quickly, which caught a slight deflection off a DLD defender and found the bottom left hand corner of the net. DLD were now completely on the back foot and their tactics of fouling to stop any progressive play by the whites now went into overdrive. Perhaps concentration on obstructing play should have been jettisoned for concentration on trying to pass the ball. They lost possession in their own half, and two passes later, Isaga finished brilliantly on the turn to bring his side level.

Cairns was unhappy at the break with numerous issues, his side’s awful start, the opposition’s persistent fouling and the poor officiating causing greatest frustration, but he tried his best to inspire his side onwards. The second half was far more cagey with both sides starting to look to preserve their position in the game. The ref saw fit to award DLD a contentious free-kick which beat Sultan at his near post despite a wall being formed. Ealing had to pick themselves up again and they did, but not before DLD had hit the post. With only five minutes remaining, another foul by DLD’s number 10, who seemed now to be overlooked for any kind of punishment regardless of his actions, gave the whites a free kick some way out. Again Zak struck and again the DLD keeper was beaten to restore parity. Ealing started to look for a winner but the closest they came was Isaga’s strangled shot into the ground. DLD however, rattled the bar, their number 7 again coming close. There was also time for an Ealing player, Ramone, to see red after overzealously sliding in. His side could have no complaints and the whites now had to struggle for the last few minutes. When asked how long was left, the referee told the Ealing boss that he was going to blow for full time. Perhaps he should have kept his word. Inexplicably, he played a full four minutes more, giving time for a DLD substitute to put in yet another late challenge on Kai, which sparked a brawl in the corner of the pitch which was an ugly end to a fiercely competitive game. Predictably, when the dust settled, the player who committed the foul walked away without punishment.

Points dropped, but coach Allan Cairns learned a great deal from this game. Some of the team apologised to him for starting so slowly, or for reacting to the incessant fouling in the brawl at the end, but Cairns was very pleased with the resilience shown by his charges. The whites, still top of the league, can hold their heads high, and are still in a good position to retain the trophy.

Man of the match – A fine debut performance by the unlucky Ramone, but man of the match goes to Zak, who alongside his two goals, showed some excellent leadership.

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