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Ealing’s long unbeaten record ends despite valiant effort

27 Sep 2017

League match – 26th September 2017

Ealing Independent College 1-2 DLD College

Team: Danial; James, Ibrahim (Luc); Adbul, Egli, Sultan, Jamie; Chifum

Goal: Egli

Last night at Burlington Danes, Ealing battled to the end against DLD but relinquished a proud run of games without defeat which has stood for an incredible 921 days and enabled two league championship titles. Not since the dim and distant past of March 20th 2015 had coach Allan Cairns sampled the bitter taste of loss in a match. This was an astonishing 23 games ago. Following the game, Cairns thought he would feel much worse. A man with a self-confessed hatred for defeat, actually felt relief that such a burden of expectation had ended, and along with it, some pride in the team, optimistic that they could now define themselves by bouncing back next week.

Pre-game, Cairns outlined two absolute imperatives for the start of the match. Firstly, he implored them to incorporate some of the speedy and accurate passing which characterised their training session last Friday, and then he forcefully declared that under no circumstances should they lose the ball in their own half. Within a few minutes, Ibrahim, so excellent across the pitch last week, deliberated too long on the ball and was robbed only a few yards out. DLD really should have taken the lead here but Ealing got away with it as a hurried shot squirmed wide. This warning shot was enough for Ealing to buck up their ideas for the following ten minutes. They started to grow into the game and competing fiercely. James put in some great blocks at the back, and Egli started to get a grip on the game in midfield. Chances were restricted to long shots however, and there was always a chance that they would pass up possession at the back, fatally as it happened mid-way through the half, when Abdul ran into trouble, and three passes later, a DLD striker found themselves with enough space to dispatch a low drive beyond Danial.

Ibrahim, struggling with an injury, made way for Luc, and, for the second week in a row, Ealing had to reorganise. Shots from distance by Chifum, Sultan and Egli could not find the target, and the half-time whistle blew with DLD leading 1-0. Given instructions to bypass the midfield, and particularly the large DLD number 6, the more direct play hurried the DLD defence into some mistakes. Egli’s shot brought a good save from the blues’ ‘keeper, and had Sultan’s close range volley been directed to either side of the man between the posts, it would have brought Ealing level. DLD continued to carry a threat at the other end. Danial made some good saves with his feet, while the dark blues were often one final pass away from getting their striker through on goal. Finally, a sharp, toe-poked shot by the tall number 6 gave DLD breathing space. Danial could have done better here, but he appeared unsighted and could not sort his feet out. Danial had, in truth though, kept his side in the game up to now. The second DLD goal felt doubly cruel given that Abdul had just forced a great chance from a corner wide.

DLD could and should have made it three soon after but some complacency lead to lazy finishing. Suddenly Ealing sparked into life. A great tackle by Luc and subsequent pass to Jamie saw the young winger burst into space. He released the ball at just the right time for Egli to quickly sort his feet and trundle and accurate finish past the DLD stopper for Ealing’s first goal of the season. The grandstand finish which the goal set up did not materialise however and DLD were able to see the remaining two minutes out without any real trouble. It was a keenly fought match between these two perennial rivals. The past two seasons have seen Ealing do enough to get past DLD. Perhaps the tables have turned. The unbeaten record of the last two years was an incredible achievement. Now is the time to bounce back, and they can do so next week against CATS College.

Man of the match – A tenacious display from James, who never gave in. Excellent in terms of workrate, he made some important challenges throughout.

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