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Brave Ealing denied at the last by Ashbourne

21 Nov 2018

League match – 20 Nov 2018

Ealing Independent College 0-1 Ashbourne College

Team: Abdullah; James, Nimr, Dominic (Aqeel); Selyan (Fraser), Brent (Sanj); Sabaoon (Abu); Ronaldo

Having played Ashbourne two weeks ago, and gone down 4-2 after a hard-fought battle, the second half of which they’d emerged as 2-1 victors, Ealing felt that they had a good chance to get a positive result last night at Burlington Danes. In driving rain and bitterly cold conditions, the match got underway at a tentative pace, with both sides feeling each other out. Some slack passing from the whites and nervous touches went unpunished by Ashbourne, who were restricted largely to long shots which Abdullah dealt with capably. The stopper performed an unforgettable punch in response to a long Albemarle clearance which had the substitutes on the sidelines roaring in approval. The defence, marshalled expertly by Nimr, looked incredibly solid, with both James and Dominic marking, tackling and blocking with ferocious tenacity.

At the other end of the pitch, Ealing looked dangerous. Every time Ronaldo got the ball, the Ashbourne defence were on-edge, and this, in turn, put them completely off their usually calm and even step. Misplaced passes and misunderstandings at the back showed the Ealing carried a threat. It would just be a case of turning that threat into goals. In such condtions, it is vitally important to ensure a neat and decisive touch, and that seemed to be beyond Sabaoon, so impressive at training on Friday. He just couldn’t compose himself to ensure his usually high standards. Brent and Selyan were putting in an excellent shift in central midfield, and Ashbourne certainly knew they were in a game. The best two chances of the half fell towards the end of it. Abdullah tipped a precise curling shot around the post from the Ashbourne number 8, while an excellent piece of interplay from a corner got Ronaldo in for a shot, ably blocked by the ‘keeper.

At half time, Cairns reminded the team that Ashbourne had not been leading them in over an hour of football now, and that the whites had to maintain their belief going into the second half. The chances would come, and when they did, they needed to be taken. Straight away Ealing were on the front foot. Midfield enforcer Selyan seemed to grow in stature as the half progressed, and never lost a challenge. When he got a sniff of the ball, Ronaldo drove at the heart of the opposition defence and had them backing off. The final shot just wasn’t there, either being blocked or not quite finding its mark.

As the rain continued to pour, the chances became fewer and further between. Ashbourne had could not find any space, tremendously blocked out by Dominic, Nimr and James. Ealing, on the other hand, had two glorious openings on the break. A poor goalkeeper clearance made it’s way to Sabaoon in space. He couldn’t clear the ball out of his feet though, or find Ronaldo and the chance was gone. Sabaoon then made way for Abu, who made an instant impact by stealing the ball and then pushing Ealing forward again. Brent, more advanced now, combined well with Ronaldo to set him away. As he bore down on goal, the Ashbourne number 7 cynically slid to take him down. The punishment should have been more than a free kick – it was a professional foul and Ashbourne should have been down to seven.

Regrettably however, Ronaldo’s resulting free kick, an excellent effort, curled wide. With only five minutes remaining, Ashbourne’s finishing quality told. A well worked move, with incisive passing got enough space for an onrushing midfielder, who made no mistake from close range.

It was extremely harsh on Ealing who arguably gave better than they got in this instance. A touch more composure at the top of the pitch, and a little more luck, and they’d be celebrating their first win of the season. Selyan summed it up perfectly at the end as he went around encouraging his peers. ‘We’re getting better all the time – and we’re not far off.’ He couldn’t have summed it up any better. The College have a team they can be proud of again – well done to all involved!

Man of the match – Nimr – Not only was Nimr sure in the tackle and full of energy throughout, his organizational skills and constant communication took the side close to their first clean sheet of the season. He personified leadership last night.

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