A great win for the Sharks against a well-mannered and hard-working Meadow Sports team who made it very tough for the first half.

A walking wounded Sharks’ squad still had enough quality to ease to victory in the end, featuring a hat trick for Ben, two goals each for Gabby and Wiktor and another clean sheet for Rory.   

The Sharks suffered their first mini injury crisis this weekend, with Phin out due to a badly bruised leg, and three other players on the “watch list”. Nile was recovering from a nasty head bump on Friday, Alejandro was suffering with a pulled muscle from Friday and Sebas had been sick all week and was not up to playing a full game.  So we drafted in Elliott and Ben to cover and hoped everyone could make it through the match intact!

As for the game – the Sharks are starting to find out what it’s like to be a top team in a division.  Everyone wants to beat you and everyone puts in that extra bit of effort to test themselves and get something from the game against you.

And so it was on Sunday, as Meadow Sports put in a really spirited performance – especially in the first half – making it difficult for the Sharks to break them down.

With Phin out injured, Gabby stepped into his place at left back and Elliott slotted into his usual role as defensive midfielder.  Alejandro was in central defence with Jake alongside at right back. Wiktor and Francis made up the central midfield pair, with Martin and Jakub in the wide positions.

It took the Sharks a while to get going, although to be fair, Meadow Sports were making it tough, getting into tackles and denying our boys space.  There was good, controlled passing as usual from the Sharks but a lack of final penetration. Wiktor played a few beautiful through balls, and Jakub and Martin were working the wings very well – with Martin swinging in some perfect corners and crosses. But Meadow defended well and cleared their lines time after time.  And their goalkeeper was excellent throughout the match – quick off his line, agile and brave.  

So halfway through the half, it was still 0-0 and we were awaiting the breakthrough. The Sharks were well on top – with few problems at the back. The couple of times Meadow Sports did break away, the defenders and Rory were quick and effective at dealing with things.

Then finally, the opening goal arrived.  Gabby played a good ball to Wiktor, who threaded a great pass to Jakub on the left.  Beating the offside trap, he raced into the area and held his nerve to slot the ball home past the diving keeper.  A cool finish.

The Sharks’ subs now came on to freshen things up – with Nile settling in at left back, Sebas in the middle – and then Ben out wide left.

Nile almost got on the score sheet right away as Martin send another of his superb crosses into area. Sebas had a great shot blocked by a defender and the ball fell to Nile on the edge of the box.  He smashed a powerful shot that seemed certain to go in – only for the keeper to somehow scramble across and push it out.  A great shot and a superb save.

A few minutes later the second goal did arrive – as Martin again lofted an excellent cross into the box.  It fell at the far post just as Ben was arriving – and he slid from a tight angle to steer the ball inside the post.  A very good finish after brilliant work from Martin.

And that was halftime.  2-0 showed how tough it had been, but Meadow Sports looked like they were tiring towards the end of the half, so we knew the second half could bring goals.

And so it proved.

Right from the kick off, the Sharks were fluid, inventive and dangerous. They played some lovely stuff, with clever interplay, and calm, composed possession.  

The third goal came after good work down the left between Ben and Nile.  Ben found hiself free on the touchline having beaten his man.  Seeing the keeper off his line, the lined up a smart shot at the near post and fired it in. Expecting a cross, the keeper couldn’t get back in time and the ball nestled in the far corner.  A very clever goal and a neat execution.

The Sharks were really settled in their stride now and the chances came one after the other for the rest of the half.  At the back, Alejandro was magnificent as usual – with no sign of his muscle injury recurring. He brought the ball out with authority and intelligence, setting up moves from the back like Bobby Moore!

At left back Nile had a superb game.  He was tirelessly running up and down the wing, defending well and creating chances at the other end.  It was a fine display – even more impressive given his head bang on Friday. (He had to come off right at the end with a headache, but thankfully it was nothing serious).

In midfield Sebas, Wiktor, Ben, Francis, Jakub and Gabby were working brilliantly together – smoothly exchanging passes and one-twos, and dribbling neatly around defenders with great skill.

Wiktor got his first goal of the game after an exchange with Sebas and Francis and a neat chipped finish over the diving keeper. Gabby then scored a scorcher from the edge of the box – volleying the ball back from a clearance high into the net.  Excellent technique.

Wiktor then added his second to make it 6-0 – after more good interchange work with Francis on the right – finishing with a low shot into the corner.

Francis got in on the action now, with his own spectacular effort. Receiving the ball on the right he hooked it brilliantly over the keeper and into the net for a peach of a goal. 7-0.

It was almost all Sharks now, but the defence remained alert and ready when called on.  Jake moved into the defensive midfield role and did well there – tackling and working hard. Meadow Sports did have one decent chance – but Rory saved magnificently from close range tipping the ball away, with the striker lofting the rebound over the bar.

Ben then thought he’d got his hat trick as he found himself free after a lovely chipped through ball from Sebas. Lobbing the keeper, he found the net well, only for the linesman to flag offside. But the referee brought the ball back for a free kick on Wiktor in the build up, right on the edge of the box. Alejandro stepped up and curled the free kick just over the bar.

Gabby then made it 8-0 with his second – a low, hard finish from the right hand side of the area, after some good work between him and Francis.

Martin then almost added the ninth – and his performance certainly deserved a goal. Racing clear in the right, he lofted in a lovely high shot, which cannoned off the post and bounced to safety.  Really unlucky.

With minutes left, there were three Sharks on a hat trick – Ben, Wiktor and Gabby – could any of them make it three goals for the day?

Gabby almost made it with a great shot from the right – which the keeper did brilliantly to save.  But he could only push the ball out to the waiting Ben who slammed it home for his third and the Sharks’ ninth.

And that was the last of the action.

In the end it was a great win and the Sharks played some beautiful flowing football. But great credit to Meadow Sports; they played with a superb attitude and restricted us to 2-0 at half time.  In both games they have conducted themselves wonderfully – warmly shaking hands even after heavy defeats.  They’re a real credit to themselves, their managers, their parents and their club.

Well done Sharks – some fine football, some great goals and some excellent performances.

And so to the Oxshott game on Sunday. They also won 9-0 this week, so both teams go into the match on good form. If the Sharks play as we know they can, they are perfectly capable of getting the result they need.

Let’s hope it’s a good game!

 

Thanks to Jim for running the line this week. And thanks to Kasia for her great pics.