16 January 2019

Spirited performance brings encouraging signs in defeat

League match – 15th January 2019

Ealing Independent College 0-3 DLD College

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

Having lost the mercurial talents of Ronaldo over the Christmas break, the College football team responded strongly last night at Westway, coming together effectively in perhaps the best team performance this season. In much the same way that Liverpool had to adapt their approach following the sale of Philippe Coutinho, Ealing had to ask more of each of the team members, to step up and get more out of themselves. The side duly responded with a tenacious performance. The match was competitive from the start, with players snapping into tackles and a high intensity clearly apparent. DLD had most of the possession but were struggling to make clear openings, while Ealing were content to hit their opponents on the break, trying to find Aqeel, who was doing a good job of holding up the ball before trying to bring his teammates into the game.

DLD’s opener came out of nothing. A long shot found its way through Selyan’s legs and a ruck of bodies before squirming past Abdullah with the ‘keeper completely unsighted. It was an undeserved kick in the teeth for the men in white, but it spurred them on to raise their levels of effort. Whenever they came forward, and particularly when they harried the DLD defenders into mistakes, they looked dangerous. Aqeel, Sabaoon, Abu and Selyan worked tirelessly, applying pressure by working in partnership to engage the press. A few speculative efforts of goal didn’t really trouble the DLD goalie however. Just before a bizarrely elongated first half came to a close, DLD snatched a second. The back line, which had looked immensely secure was breached down the left, and an inviting cross, rifled in by the dangerous DLD number 8, was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Dominic.

A half time rallying call brought praise from coach Cairns. His side had certainly given as good as they had got in the half, and, had they been more clinical in front of goal, could well have been more in touch than the scoreline suggested. Brent came on for the exhausted Aqeel, adding some pace to the Ealing frontline. Cairns had demanded the same effort from the side, and they heeded his calls, again working extremely hard to close down their opponents or challenge for second balls. The defence were playing with a stubborn sense of purpose, with Nimr martialling Dominic and James superbly. Some attention will definitely need to be paid to free kick taking. Sabaoon's delivery on these ranged between awful and worse than awful. DLD forced Abdullah into a couple of saves, but he dealt with them well. A third goal came in bizarre circumstances for DLD when the referee, indecisive throughout the match in an error-strewn display, gave a contentious free kick to the men in dark blue hoops, only doing so after asking whether the players agreed with his decision. At first it appeared as though he was awarding a drop-ball, but he changed his decision, gave the free-kick, and the tall DLD number 9 duly powered it home.

The final stages of the match belonged to Ealing. Aqeel was reintroduced for James, bringing a change in shape. A more attacking approach brought three clear chances, all of which fell to Brent. Unfortunately, the DLD stopper was equal to all of them, beating away a volley and using his legs to deflect a long drive before making another good reflex save when Brent bore down on him after getting the better of a defender. DLD, the champions of last term, had been forced to work hard for their victory and, despite a positive result this academic year still being elusive, there was a great deal to be proud of coming out of this match.   

Man of the match – A strong performance from all of the team – this was a far more cohesive display – but for his hold up play and perseverance throughout the game, Aqeel gets the award.

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