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Champions survive scare to climb back to summit

25 Nov 2016

League match – 24 November 2016

Ealing Independent College 5-3 Chelsea Independent College

Team: Sultan; Zak A, Lucas (Luc); Tom (Gursavek); Hamza, Kai (Jake), Georges (Ibrahim); Isaga (Zak N)

Goals: Isaga 3, Zak A, Ibrahim

In their first ever meeting with Chelsea, Ealing found themselves back at their least favourite venue for what turned out to be an error-strewn display from themselves, their opponent and the match official. It was a match which the side will do very well to forget as soon as they possibly can. The tight, narrow pitch at Phoenix does not allow for expansive, attacking football, and the game resembled more of a battle than a sporting encounter at times. Ealing were quick to overpower their opponents from the start though and got their noses in front through Isaga, who hit a well guided shot on the turn from just outside the box to give them the lead. Complacency started to lurch into the white’s play though, and the ref was quick to punish an indiscretion from Lucas who crept into the box, giving Chelsea an opportunity to quickly equalize. Gladly, the tall striker smashed his poor penalty way over the bar.

A fine passage of play finally came 15 minutes in, with some quick and accurate passing between Hamza and Kai. The swift winger then squared to Zak, who clinically dispatched his side’s second with pinpoint accuracy. Ealing should have started to relax at this point and play some decent football, but they never seemed to get out of second gear all game. Another quirk of the Phoenix pitch is the lack of nets. This bizarrely confused the ref to chalk off a perfectly good goal for Isaga, his shot hitting an unfortunately placed backpack in the goal and bouncing out to deny him his second on the stroke of half time. The ref was incandescent that it didn’t cross the line. Everyone else present could not believe the decision.

The players were still angry as the second half started, and this allowed a lapse in concentration which allowed the maroons to get back into the game. Their nippy striker finished coolly after being allowed too much space following the surrender of possession from Ealing in their own half. Play became jittery and nervous, and the player’s anger only grew when they were denied a blatant penalty. Chelsea’s ‘keeper came outside the box, rolled around and then finally put his hands on the ball illegally. The referee, again to the astonishment of all present, said that he did not touch the ball, but within this criteria, Lucas would not have been penalised earlier. The whites managed to harness this energy to strike again through Isaga whose shot crashed in at the near post to restore the two goal cushion. Again, Ealing should now have started to relax and play with their heads. Again, they did anything but. The quick winger again stole away to plant a confident finish past Sultan in goal. Some substitutions altered the Ealing side, with Kai and Georges, who seemed to have almost twenty unsuccessful efforts on goal between them making way for Jake and Ibrahim.

For a period of five minutes following this Chelsea goal, a sense of tension gripped the side. They stopped playing football and started playing a poor imitation of what had brought them such a strong start to the season. It was poor to watch to say the least. Panicked hoofing on one extreme, or being caught in possession on the other, enraged the coach Allan Cairns who roared at his team to sort themselves out. Fortunately, Isaga heeded his words, bursting past a couple of challenges to bury another low drive at the near post. Moments later, substitute Ibrahim found enough space to hit a hopeful low shot scuttling across the floor towards the Chelsea goal. The ‘keeper, likely unsighted, took an age to get himself into position to deal with it. So long, in fact, that it beat him to give Ealing further breathing space. A flurry of changes then came, with Luc and Zak N making their debuts. Chelsea took advantage of these changes to find another response from a quickly taken free kick, the Ealing marking non-existent as the striker in maroon gleefully completed his hat trick.

The referee then brought an end to what had been a strange encounter. Ealing breathed a sigh of relief as they ascended to the top of the table again. This had, though, been certainly their worst performance this season.

Man of the match – Not a great team performance in general. Tom impressed in central midfield, and Zak and Lucas made some good interventions but the award has to go to Isaga for his hat trick.

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