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League leaders canter to victory despite below-par performance

06 Jan 2017

League match – 5th January 2017

Collingham College 0-4 Ealing Independent College

Team: Danial; Jamie (Tom); Zak, Lucas: Hamza, Kai, Georges; Isaga (Zak N)

Goals: Isaga, Georges, O.G, Zak N

Back in action at the start of 2017 following an extremely successful 2016, Ealing knew that they could extend their lead at the top while the other title chasers were inactive this week. Despite the importance of the game, notable absences or lateness of players meant that Ealing had to start the game with only 7. An alternative formation was agreed upon before Lucas, Tom and Zak arrived to make the squad for the game complete, but in this 6 minute period of having a man less, Ealing were rarely threatened, and in fact looked the more dangerous side, with a few shots from distance which had the Collingham goalkeeper worried.

Once Lucas came on to even up the contest, the standard actually dropped. Passing was slack and there seemed a general lack of energy in the play of the whites. Lucky breaks are needed at points in a season, and pleasingly for Ealing, one fell to them 15 minutes in. Isaga found some space to turn and get a well driven snapshot on goal. In truth, the ‘keeper should have dealt with it, but it escaped his grasp and looped beyond him into the net. He raced back in an effort to scoop it out, but it was to no avail. The Ealing players celebrated, but in truth, they did not deserve this lead. Collingham responded with spirit and got the league leaders onto the back foot quickly. They forced a series of corners, and came close to equalising when a well-placed header crashed against the bar with Danial beaten. Danial had made some good stops previous to this. From one such corner, Ealing broke away directly with pace. In what would be their best move of the match, quick passing between Kai and Isaga released Georges, who cut inside the last defender and committed the ‘keeper before lifting a clinical shot beyond him and into the net.

At this point, Collingham seemed to lose heart. Hamza made his way into an advanced position down the right hand side before back heeling into the centre. Under severe pressure from Kai and Georges, a Collingham defender could do little more than divert the ball into the bottom left hand corner of his own net. They could, in fact have got a fourth soon after, with Isaga manufacturing himself the chance to attempt an audacious overhead kick. Sadly, it ended up so far over the bar that it troubled the top of the cage rather than the Collingham stopper. Soon after, the half time whistle blew and Ealing could consider themselves extremely fortunate to be ahead to the tune of three goals. Coach Allan Cairns demanded an improvement after the break, imploring his side to cut out the mistakes.

The improvement which Cairns requested did not materialise. The second half turned into something of a non-event. Collingham had spells of pressure, and some great chances to reduce the arrears, but due to a combination of poor finishing or fine saves by Danial, they could not make the breakthrough. Tom replaced the injured Jamie, and made some good interceptions at the back to protect Ealing’s lead, while Isaga made way for Zak N. In the final few moments the tricky striker made an instant impact following his introduction, nipping between two defenders to slip a fine finish between the goalkeeper and the far post.

Man of the match – Though there were strong showings by Jamie, Georges, Lucas and Kai, special praise must be reserved for Danial, not only drafted in very late as ‘keeper but made a few key saves and demonstrated sound handling throughout.

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