A great away win for the Sharks with some very pleasing football, some well-worked goals, and another clean sheet.

Everyone was a bit rusty, understandably, after a few weeks’ off but the Sharks soon got into their stride and were testing the Walcountians’ defence with some excellent interplay between the front three of Wiktor, Ben and Nile. Martin and Gabriel were pushing forward from full back to good effect and Alejandro was marshalling the defence in his usual imperious way.

Eventually the first goal came from a corner on the left. Gabriel, standing in at left back for the sick Phin, floated a cross to the near post, where their keeper fumbled the ball. It bounced out to Nile, who was razor sharp in smashing it over the line.

Now the Sharks were getting into the swing of things. Martin and Gabriel were pushing up the flanks well, and they and Alejandro were denying Walcountians any time or space on the ball. Ben and Wiktor were linking up well with the full backs and getting in behind the defence. The second goal was not going to be long coming.

It came through a great solo effort from Ben, waltzing through the defence from the left wing and finishing well past the keeper with his left foot. The third came soon afterwards from Wiktor, after good interplay between him, Martin and Nile on the right hand side. Wiktor smashed the ball from the edge of the area to beat the keeper at his near post.

Rory came on as striker for some pitch time ahead of going in goal second half, and managed some beautiful link up play with the wide players. The chances were really coming now and Rory was desperately unlucky not to score when a fine move ended with his shoot just clearing the bar with the keeper beaten.  Moments later Ben floated in a cross from the left and Rory was inches away from meeting it properly with his head for what would have been a delightful goal.

The fourth goal soon arrived as Ben received the ball from Gabriel on the left, and, in a carbon copy of his first goal, danced around the Walcountians’ defence and slotted past the keeper for his second of the day.

Jakub, who hadn’t had much to do in goal first half, swapped with Rory up front for the second half and was soon terrorising the Walcountians’ defenders.  The Sharks were playing some lovely football now – passing quickly and accurately and creating chance after chance. Wiktor grabbed his second with a powerful shot from the edge of the box and Jakub got his first with a magnificent goal slotted past the keeper at his near post.

The Sharks were pouring forward now and everyone fancied getting in on the scoring. Wiktor completed his hat trick after the ball had pinged around in the Pumas’ area and shots from Alejandro, Nile and Ben were all blocked.

The final goal was the best of the lot from a team perspective, and wonderfully satisfying to watch as a coach. Nile won the ball by his own corner flag at left back, and had the confidence to pass it out to Francis. Francis played it back to Alejandro and kept going for the return ball, which came quickly and accurately. Francis sprinted into the Walcountians’ half and slipped the ball to Ben on the right wing. He beat his man, got to the goal line and crossed the ball past the keeper to the waiting Jakub who slotted it home confidently from a few yards out. A really tremendous team goal, from one end of the pitch to the other – great passing, great movement and great awareness from all the boys.

Towards the end, as the boys were pushing forward, they left some gaps at the back, but Rory was superb, coming off his line confidently and sharply to snuff out the danger.  And when the Pumas did break through on one occasion, he dived bravely to smother the shot and collect the ball.

All round, a really good performance from the Sharks. They created so many more chances, another 5 or 6 goals would not have flattered them.

Once again, the opposition manager complimented the boys on their passing game: when they’re in full flow it’s genuinely joyous to watch.

A really good finish to the first half of the season for the Sharks.  Only one defeat, 27 goals scored and only 7 conceded in 8 matches – easily the best goal difference in the division and only 2 points off the top of the table.

Best of all, I really think the Sharks play the best football in the division.

Here’s to a great Christmas and to an exciting New Year – well done to the boys and to Craig!

Damien