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New champions taught harsh lesson by Ealing alumni

07 Apr 2017

Friendly match – 6 April 2017

Ealing Independent College 2016/2017 1-5 Ealing Independent College 2015/2016


2016/2017: Danial; Jamie C, Ibrahim (Lucas); Zak, Ryan, Kai; Georges

Goal: Lucas

2015/2016: Azim; Mohamed, Malcolm; Hamza, Jamie R, Hamze; Evan

Goals: Hamze 2, Evan 3

On a glorious sunny day at Burlington Danes, the league championship winners from the last two seasons faced off to put to bed the question of who was the better side. The answer was an emphatic one, with Ealing’s first title winners putting together a clinical display of stronger, more direct football, which the current title-holders could not live with.

With a few notable absences, Krystian and Jamie G from the 2015/2016 champions, and Egli and Isaga from the 2016/2017 winners, the game would be 7 versus 7 as opposed to the usual 8-a-side. Some robust challenges from the off showed that this would be anything but a friendly game, the tone having already being set on the football alumni group chat, where some pre-game banter had set the stage for a competitive affair. An even opening ten minutes, where both sides made some half-chances quickly saw the older sides’ fitness after one year at university put to the test. With much of the team bemoaning their lack of match practice, an accurate through ball by Hamza set 2015/2016 top-scorer Hamze away into space down the right channel. He let the ball drift across him before firing a powerful shot into the bottom left corner, running off to celebrate with glee before declaring, quite rightly, “I’ve still got it!”

The rest of the half saw the current champions come back into the game. A series of corners bore little fruit, but a sharp chance created by Zak for Georges saw Azim make a tremendous one handed stop. Ryan then missed a gilt-edged chance, before Jamie’s shot following a short free kick rebounded to Georges. Sadly for this season’s top marksman, his touch deserted him and the ball trickled out of play. One felt that the current side had lost their chance to strike a major psychological blow to their elder adversaries. Evan then missed a glorious chance on the break after a clipped through ball by Hamze. Danial making one of his trademark saves to deny the now shaven-headed ginger striker. As the half ended, Evan committed his fifth foul of the half, dumping Kai to the ground. Having curried favour by giving the referee a lift to the ground, the yellow card, which his multiple fouls deserved, remained in the official’s pocket.

An intriguing second half now loomed. Would the alumni tire like they did in the first? Would the current champions leave too much space as they strived for an equaliser? The answer was the latter, and comprehensively so. The younger side, in red, were quickly on the front foot, enjoying large spells of possession in the whites’ half. Some intricate play forged a glimmer of an opportunity for Zak, but Azim was again equal to his shot. Mohamed and Malcolm were making some tenacious blocks, and Hamza dropped deeper and deeper to counter the threat. Jamie C was marauding forward, alarmingly leaving some huge gaps at the back. It seemed a matter of time before these were exploited, and accordingly, a through ball made it’s way to Evan. He had an age to then take a touch and despatch a strong finish past Danial, before whipping his shirt off and running to celebrate in front of an imaginary stand full of imaginary fans.

Two quick-fire goals followed as the reds capitulated, Hamze curling in a sumptuous third from distance, with Danial little more than a spectator, while Malcolm released Evan to score his second, an almost complete replicate of his first, afforded too much space and time in front of goal to sort his feet out before slamming home. This was getting embarrassing for the current champions, who had not tasted defeat all season. They probed again and again, but were toothless in attack. Georges made an opening for himself by cutting away from Mohamed, but he pulled his shot wide. The whites were always able to get plenty of bodies back to ensure that they were equal to anything thrown at them. Finally Lucas brought some cheer to the now deflated current champions, running through three challenges before slipping a neat finish below the onrushing Azim.

It looked, with only four minutes left, that the scoring could well be completed at this point, but the alumni still found enough time, through Hamza and Jamie R, to forge an opening for Evan. Cutting on to his right, in a manner evoking Hamze’s goal scored ten minutes earlier, the striker curled an arcing shot in to Danial’s left hand corner, clipping the post as it buried itself in the net. He too made it clear, like Hamze, to anyone listening that “he still had it.” With that, the game ended. A 5-1 score-line perhaps flattering the winners, but they took their chances, defended resolutely, and had a superb goalkeeping display to thank for their win. Tactically, their play could not be faulted, whilst the current champions left themselves vulnerable to the counter attack, chasing the game as soon as they went a goal down.

It remains only to thank all players who made the day such a special occasion, and one that hopefully will be the first of many football alumni get-togethers in the years to come.

Man of the match – Superb performances, particularly from Azim, Hamza and Hamze, but the award must go to Evan who marked his return to College football action with a hat-trick, including a sublime third to comprehensively complete the scoring.

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