A magnificent win for the Sharks in their penultimate League game of the season. There were four goals for Francis, a hat trick for Sebas and two for Ben – as well as a clean sheet for Rory. The football at times was breathtaking, and once again the opposition coach was full of praise for the fluid, passing game of the Sharks.
Surrey Predators had given us a physical game at Imber Court, so we knew we’d have to be on our mettle to beat them. As it was, there were plenty of crunching tackles and Jakub and Ben both had to hobble off during the game after “strong” challenges.
In the end, the Sharks’ skill and fluency ensured they didn’t need to worry about physicality.
With Wiktor and Martin resting, the line up saw Rory in goal, Jake Alejandro and Phin at the back with Elliot in front. Jakub was right wing, Francis left, with Sebas and Gabby in central midfield. Ben and Nile were the starting subs.
The Sharks were very quickly into their stride and creating chances from the off. Jakub and Francis were working well down the wings and getting dangerous crosses in, while Sebas, Gabby and Elliott were taking control of the midfield.
The first goal soon came after good work from Jakub down the right – he crossed the ball into the area and Gabby was there to slam it home from close range.
Jakub then got injured after a clash and had to come off, replaced by Ben who soon found himself on the score sheet after a great corner from Sebas. The Predators failed to clear and Ben slotted the ball away for 2-0.
And then it was The Francis and Sebas Show as they scored the next 7 goals between them.
Francis opened his account with a beauty from the edge of the area. Controlling a good ball from Gabby, he caught it perfectly on the half volley and his shot looped into the far corner. An excellent goal.
Ben then hobbled off after a nasty foul in the box, replaced by Nile, since Jakub was still recovering from his earlier injury!
But the goals kept coming. Sebas scored his first after a great run into the box; he beat three men and then guided the ball home from the angle. A great goal.
The football was really flowing now as the Sharks turned on the style. Sebas added his second with a neat finish. And then Francis added two more to complete his hat trick for 7-0.
At the back, Predators were being kept well in check by the Sharks’ defence. Jake continued his excellent progress at right back – he’s strong in the tackle, anticipates well and uses the ball intelligently. Alejandro was his usual imperious self, bringing the ball out of defence with calm authority and setting up moves with clever through balls. Phin was as energetic as ever at left back – and then smart and effective when he moved into midfield in the second half. And although Rory had little to do, he was always alert and came to claim the ball well on the few occasions the Predators got forward.
Elliott patrolled the defensive midfield area brilliantly – using his pace and intelligence to snuff out any danger that did arise.
The second half saw the Sharks in total control. The football was dazzling; sweeping, one- touch stuff creating chances with almost every attack. Jakub was full of running once he came back on after his injury – and gave the Predator defence a torrid time all half. Ben, Francis, Sebas, Gabby, Nile and Phin all played superbly in the midfield, exchanging passes perfectly and at high speed. It was exciting, intelligent football at its best.
Francis soon added his fourth and the Sharks’ eighth with a sumptuous strike from outside the box. Using control and technique he swept a high shot over the keeper and into the net. Excellent.
Francis then turned provider as he linked up with Jakub and placed a perfect cross along the six-yard box for Nile to hammer home.
Then Sebas completed his hat trick, after a clever free-kick from Alejandro – who floated a lovely ball into the area, where Sebas met it ahead of the defenders and hooked it goalwards. Phin could have got a touch to claim a goal, but he very honourably left it to ensure Sebas got his third. Well done all round!
Jakub then rounded off an excellent day’s work with a great cross from the right, which Nile did superbly to keep in play – hooking it back across the box for Ben who was waiting to volley it home for 11-0. Really great play from Jakub and Nile and a well-worked team goal to finish the match.
Once again the opposition coach was full of praise for the Sharks – making a point of coming over and commending them after the game for their brilliant football. It is a genuine pleasure to see them click into gear and play such technically proficient, fluid football. Everyone is comfortable on the ball and tries to pass whenever they can – right from the back to the front of the team.
So one more league match to go – against Abbey Rangers on 29th April. In the meantime, we have a couple of friendlies lined up, starting with a game this Sunday against our co-lodgers at Imber Court, Esher Colts. They are a solid Division 2 side and they have reached the Cup Final, so they’ll prove a great test for the Sharks. We did well against the other cup finalists Twickenham Tigers a few weeks back, so it will be another good chance to see how we fare against similarly tough opponents.
I’m afraid I can’t remember who ran the line – apologies and thanks to whoever it was!