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05 December 2018

Goals galore as somehow Ealing allow another game to slip from their grasp

League match – 4 Dec 2018

Ealing Independent College 5-6 CATS College

Team: Abdullah; Nimr (Sanj), Fraser, Dominic; Abu, Selyan, Brent; Ronaldo; Sub not used: Ed

Goals: Ronaldo 4, Brent

This term, football has very much been one of ‘one step forward and three steps back’ at the College, and so, as if to try and sum this up in one match, the team turned in another bizarre performance. At times exhilarating, at times immensely frustrating, but always hugely entertaining, Ealing turned in their best attacking performance of the season, alongside an error-strewn defensive display that invited their opponents back into the game three times, whereupon they stole a victory which was incredibly harsh on the men in white.

James called off early in the day, and Fraser came straight in to replace him. Sabaoon’s worrying knee injury kept him out, and so, Ealing coach Allan Cairns had few options to consider for his starting line up which picked itself. He changed the side little from the MPW humbling last week, and told his charges to get out there and enjoy themselves. The team took those instructions literally, roaring into a swift two goal lead. Abu’s quick thinking as a CATS defender made a shinned clearance, saw him grab the ball, and propel it over that same defender’s head. Ronaldo had little room to manoeuvre, but he did so excellently, adjusting his body to guide a precise finish with the outside of his foot. Clearly taken aback by this, the CATS defenders didn’t know what had hit them. Soon after the restart, the Caribbean wonderkid got control in a dangerous position again. Skipping past two players, he drilled an unstoppable shot beyond the CATS goalie and into the net. Ealing looked on easy street and it seemed like they were going to run away with it.

Only once this season has Ealing looked truly solid in a match, the 1-0 loss to Ashbourne. There was constant communication, tracking back, positional discipline and tough tackling then. Last night, it was more a case of ragged marking and bringing on their own problems with poor decision making. Poor closing down allowed the big CATS striker to get a shot away which squirmed under Abdullah for 2-1, then a rash challenge by Fraser resulted in a penalty, coolly converted for 2-2.

Cairns shouted to his men to ‘go and win the game again’ and they duly grabbed back the initiative. This time it was Brent who sparked into life. A superb spin past two defenders, then a powerful surge past another culminated in an arrowed shot into the bottom corner to restore the lead. The delighted players then got straight back into their opponents and forced an error at the back. Ronaldo picked up a loose pass and broke onto his right foot, sliding an accurate effort into the bottom corner for 4-2. Again, all seemed right with the world. Again, however, Ealing threw it away shortly before half time. Poor defending again was to blame, though Selyan and Abu were starting to tire and the midfield coverage left no pressure on the growing influence of the bandana wearing number 11. He made two quick fire assists to get CATS back on terms again.

Frustration reigned at half time, but there was no time to sulk. Cairns fired his men up again for another assault. Time after time when Ronaldo got the ball, he was bundled to the deck, and time after time the ref gave a foul but nothing else. The CATS 7, who had now committed as many illegal challenges as the number which adorned his back, finally picked up a yellow card, but the refereeing intervention had come too late to change the game. CATS were intelligent enough to know that they could foul and foul, which they did, and little punishment would come their way. It made the game a poor spectacle. One team was trying to play football, whilst the other was happy to destroy.

For a time, it looked like justice would prevail. After the awarding of another free kick for a foul on Ronaldo, the diminutive year 11 picked himself up and slotted a tremendous shot into the corner to give Ealing back the advantage. Worryingly after this, the side, and Abu in particular were falling deeper and deeper. A CATS corner was fumbled by Abdullah and the CATS striker was first to react, making it 5-5.

With attackers clearly on top, it was becoming abundantly clear that there was one goal left in this. Ealing succumbed to an agonisingly late goal in their 1-0 reverse against Ashbourne a few weeks back, and though they had chances, CATS had just that little bit more skill in game management. Caught chasing the game upfield, Ealing were left outnumbered at the back and Abdullah’s despairing effort to keep the ball out failed. Ronaldo’s final effort skewed over the bar and Ealing were beaten again - this time largely their own doing, though some incredibly lenient refereeing left their players seething and morale on the deck.

Put into context though, there was definite progress last night. That Ealing were close enough to be robbed by poor officiating and their own errors means that they are getting there. And in Ronaldo, Ealing have one of the brightest talents who has ever turned out for the College. He is, without doubt, a star in the making.

Man of the match – Ronaldo - An electrifying show that had CATS defenders and midfielders so bamboozled that they had to resort to fouling him every time he got the ball. Without doubt the stand out player on the pitch. With some protection from the referee, would have certainly ended up on the winning side.

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