13 June 2019

Old habits die hard in successful alumni match

Old habits die hard in successful alumni match

Ealing Independent College 2015-2016 3-1 Ealing Independent College 2016-2017

Teams (2015-2016): Azim, Seb, Krystian, Jamie, Evan

Teams (2016-2017): Danial, Lucas, Zak, Kai, Ryan

Lammas Park played host to a glorious evening’s football last night as individuals from Ealing Independent College FC’s illustrious history came together to play out a competitive encounter. Representation from both title winning teams was present, and a high-quality encounter took place, with even coach Allan Cairns donning his kit and playing the first half for the 2015-2016 side while late-comers Zak and Lucas made their way to the game.

The blue touch paper was lit on a feisty encounter when Evan belted a screamer past Danial to give the men in white the lead. It took a slight deflection before arrowing into the top right corner, but the touch from Jamie was inconsequential – there was no stopping the flame-haired striker’s drive, which he caught perfectly. Seb and Krystian maintained a high press throughout the half, backed up by the Cairns who provided stout defensive work and the odd searching long ball, in spite of his aging years. Reinforcements came to support Ryan, Kai and Jamie and the tide instantly turned, the men in black starting to dominate possession and territory. Wave after wave of attacks crashed into the tiring whites. Some tremendous blocks, tracking and challenges went in, but with the superb performance of Azim between the sticks, the 2015-2016 side were able to hold on to the lead, albeit desperately.

Some strong challenges came raining in, particularly from past enforcers Krystian and Evan, letting the fleet footed Zak and Kai know they were there. Ryan missed a glorious chance, while Kai was struggling to get round a well marshalled defence. Even when they could get a shot away, Azim’s handling was secure. Just before half time however, an intricate move involving the whole team in black finally got Zak through and despite a blatant foul by Azim, the tall midfielder was able to contort his body in order to manoeuvre the ball round the stopper and in to the net to even the scores.

With half time, Jamie, a stalwart from both championship winning teams, shifted to the whites, allowing Cairns to move to a refereeing role. The match was now five on five, with all to play for. A two-goal salvo quickly swung the tie in the favour of the 2015-2016 team. Some sustained pressure from the 2016-2017 boys brought them a series of corners, but an incisive breakaway found Evan. Reckless goalkeeping from Danial, who had pushed beyond halfway, was capitalised on by the striker, and his deft flicked released Jamie. Despite Kai chasing him down hard, the dependable defender took a sure touch before burying his side second goal. Moments later, a flowing move from right to left found Evan in enough space to power a shot into the roof of the net for a third.

With only ten minutes remaining, the blacks had to respond. Again they took a stranglehold on possession and territory, but couldn’t quite find any clear openings. Zak powered a shot in, but it was straight at Azim, who fisted it away. He also slid wide after being sent through. When they really needed to make one of their chances count in the hope of setting up a grandstand finish, they simply could not manage it, with the 2015-2016 team seeing their victory out comfortably.

The yearly alumni match continues to be a great success, and it was truly tremendous to see so many familiar faces back in Ealing kit.

Man of the match – Evan might have converted two goals, and Zak might have dominated ball possession, but the key figure was Azim. For a ten-minute spell, he was unbeatable, and this kept the 2015-2016 league winners not only in the lead, but in the match itself.

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