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Under-strength Ealing edge five goal thriller

19 Oct 2017

League match – 17 October 2017
Ealing Independent College 3-2 MPW

Team: Danial; James, Ibrahim; Egli, Sultan H; Sultan A, Rahail; Chifum

Having had a rest week last week and benefitted from a forfeit victory the week before, it had felt like a while since Ealing’s last competitive action. Last night the side faced MPW for the first time, and the match was an entertaining end-to-end contest which the men in white just shaded, to take the three points and move them back up to second in the league table.

The ring rust which had developed following a few weeks out of action was very clear at the start of the match. Some loose passing and a lack of communication allowed MPW to get a foothold. The reds took advantage, capitalising on some careless play in midfield to force an opening which their striker dispatched beyond Danial in goal. This goal acted as a wake-up call, and Ealing were stirred into an instant response. Slick passing from Egli, Sultan H and Chifum created enough space for debutant Sultan A on the left wing. He took the time to compose himself with an excellent first touch, before slotting an accurate finish into the far right corner. Ealing now surged into the ascendancy; their pass and move football carving open the reds time after time. Egli almost broke the bar with a powerful drive, and the MPW ‘keeper denied Sultan H. Finally Ealing got their reward when Sultan A squared to Chifum. His first time finish left the MPW stopper with no chance this time.

After getting their noses in front, Ealing then took their foot off the gas. Whether through poor decision making or slack passing, the magical five minute spell where they’d turned the game around, was quickly replaced by turgid kick and rush football. For some reason, the side either over-elaborated or panicked when it came to finding a crucial through ball, or getting a shot away on target. Egli made an outstanding challenge to preserve the lead as the reds grew in confidence, but otherwise, Danial was rarely troubled. Coach Allan Cairns made it clear that it was vital that the team started to play with their heads in the second half, as they were making the game unnecessarily more difficult for themselves.

The second half continued in a similar, exciting fashion. Ealing largely drew MPW on in an effort to hit them on the counter attack. The reds made some half chances but were struggling to create clear opportunities. Much of this was down to Ibrahim and James in defence, who stood tall and strong, Egli who was dropping deeper to cover them when they appeared to be in danger, and Danial, who made a few timely interventions. He played the role of ‘sweeper-keeper’ very well, though he can approach challenges in a cavalier manner. His judgement last night, barring one departure from his line to challenge for a high ball, was spot-on. Ibrahim was tremendous in the tackle, making up for some questionable positioning, while James did well to react in a measured way to the high boot from the reds’ tall, blonde number 7.
Ealing always seemed to have an outlet at the other end, with Chifum finding space easily. His control was superb, pleasing the crowd on the touchline with one particular trap from Danial’s clearance, followed by a witty retort, before he tormented the strapping MPW number 3. The striker had one shot which squirmed under the reds’ keeper, hit the post and trickled along the line, which Rahail was convinced had gone in, and then danced his way down the goal line before smashing a shot against the outside of the post. The woodwork was again struck by Sultan H after he found enough space to drill in an effort. Finally Ealing got themselves the breathing space they had threatened to grab when Ibrahim broke forward in a three man pincer attack. Chifum made a dummy run and Sultan H released the defender to shift the ball on to his right and then drive a shot low and into the corner.

One may have thought that Ealing would try to see things out comfortably having worked so hard to get this advantage. A buccaneering run for the strong MPW number 3 put paid to that however, and he burst through three challenges after Ealing struggled to clear, and rammed a low shot into the corner, much to coach Cairns’ chagrin. MPW tried to rally to get another and force a draw, but Ealing were resolute. At the final whistle, when James belted the ball clear, the whites were relieved to take the points.

Man of the match – Chifum – Tirelessly made himself available in the forward role, showed great control, and notched his first goal for the side.

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