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Battling display gives Ealing share of the spoils

20 Sep 2017

League match – 19 September 2017

Ealing Independent College 0-0 Ashbourne College

Team: Danial; Jack (Luc), James; Abdul (Dominic), Egli, Ibrahim; Sultan (Chifum), Jamie (Rahail)

An exciting new era of College football began as Ealing played their first game in this season’s new league, offering the new challenge of a consistently high level of opponent. Rebuilding a side was always going to be difficult after the bulk of the unbeaten championship winning team of 2017-2018 moved on to university. Only goalkeeper Danial and rugged midfielder Egli survived from last season’s title decider against DLD. The whites had also only been able to get one trial session in to prepare for this league opener. It was not the usual level of organisation which coach Allan Cairns ensured. Nonetheless, the squad all turned up, barring one who reported a slight muscle pull.

The game burst into an energetic start. High pressing by Sultan and Jamie put the Ashbourne defenders under pressure and they were hurried into mistakes. At the back and in midfield, confident passing by Egli, Jack, Abdul and James kept possession for Ealing in an assured manner. Chances were few and far between at this stage as the teams cancelled each other out. The blues were restricted to long shots, capably saved by Danial’s legs, while Ealing’s best efforts were also dispatched from a distance, a scrappy passage of play leading to three blocked efforts at the end of the first half.

The only really notable incident in the half came where an Ashbourne midfielder went in hard on Ealing debutant Jack, with the defender instantly lying prone on the ground and grimacing in pain. An x-ray later showed the lack of a break, but his ankle has certainly gone through a seismic tremor. It was unfortunate as Jack had made a promising start to the match. The referee strangely decided against giving a free kick. Luc came on to replace Jack, and Ibrahim moved into defence shortly before the official blew the half time whistle.

Fitness levels dropped dramatically during the second half as it became clear the whites had expended a great deal of energy in the opening period. The whites began to sit deeper and looked to hit Ashbourne on the counter. Ashbourne were now making the clearer chances but could not quite take them. A combination of Danial in goal or wayward finishing was still to blame for the stalemate. At times, Ealing threatened as the blues sought the breakthrough. Sultan broke away to find space but his shot was weak. Egli then fashioned Ealing’s best opportunity, finding himself on the right side of midfield he smashed a fine shot towards goal. Sadly, it whistled just over the bar. Egli carried the biggest threat at this point and had two more long drives, one bringing a decent stop from the ‘keeper, and the other again fired over.

Three subs made their debuts for the same with eight minutes to go – Rahail, Dominic and Chifum – and it was the pacey striker, who had their last chance, dragging his shot wide when he made space to crack a shot away. It was Ashbourne who had the whites on the rack as the game came to a close however. A long ball dropped over the defence, allowing the blues’ number 11 to get a turning shot away. It was high and wide though. Danial then made a save low and to his left. The mental state of the side at this point was epitomised by James who hoofed a panicked clearance away with one minute to go.

It certainly started better than it ended for Ealing, but they are off the mark.

Man of the match – Ibrahim. Tenacious throughout, Ibrahim refused to shirk a challenge and was strong in every tackle. He kept going despite picking up an injury at the end.

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