A fantastic start to 2012 for the Sharks who won convincingly against a very good Cheam Sports side. They showed no signs of last season’s post-Christmas slump and continued where they’d left off on 2011, with fine, flowing football, plenty of determination and some superb goals.
Cheam had given us a tough game earlier in the season at Imber Court, and they’re currently in third place in there league, so we were wary of any complacency. The pitch also had a fair slope to it, which could prove tricky for the team kicking uphill.
All in all, it was a game to take seriously.
Kicking uphill first half, the Sharks needed to be on their mettle. An unfamiliar line up in centre of midfield saw Francis and Gabby stand in for Sebas (resting) and Wiktor (substitute). Nile was on the left wing with Jakub on the right.
The game was congested in the middle of the pitch and it was hard for the Sharks to find their passing at first. Cheam were trying to use the downhill slope to their advantage in the first half – and were playing quick forward balls to their front men. Fortunately our familiar defensive line up – Elliott in the holding role with Alejandro, Martin and Phin – was more than up to the task. Elliott covered superbly and won the ball confidently in the middle, while Alejandro was magnificent as usual in the centre of defence – snuffing out a few dangerous breaks with perfectly timed tackles. Even the opposition managers were full of admiration.
On the flanks, Martin and Phin were their usual dependable selves – hard to beat, solid, and calm and creative in possession. And Rory continued his alert and commanding form – coming off his line quickly to collect the ball and holding really well from a couple of dangerous shots.
Up front, the Sharks were staring to establish a foothold after an even first 10 minutes. Jakub was excellent on the right – full of running and energy and determination. He played in a couple of great crosses and managed a couple of good shots – one of which the keeper could only parry. Francis sprinted in to slot the rebound home, but somehow a Cheam defender got back with a sliding tackle to deny him the goal. Superb defending, but frustrating for the Sharks.
Gabriel then played in a good cross which fell to Jakub in the box. He turned and fired a great shot which rattled the bar and fell to safety. Very unlucky for Jakub and the Sharks.
Ben and Wiktor came on midway through the half and the Sharks continued to press for the equaliser. Almost immediately Ben was fouled with a nasty tackle just outside the box and he had to limp off. Alejandro took the free kick and floated an excellent ball into the area – where Francis met it with a fantastic shot, which sailed high into the far corner of the net. Unfortunately, the Cheam defence had been well drilled and caught the Sharks’ attackers offside. So the goal was correctly ruled out.
But it felt as though the opening goal was coming. And it soon did.
Wiktor and Gabby worked the ball quickly and fluidly through the midfield – and then Gabby played a delightful through ball for Francis to run onto. He held off his defender well and poked the ball past the keeper for a 1-0 lead.
It was well deserved, but hard fought – and the half ended with the Sharks just a goal ahead.
Second half was downhill though – and the Sharks made the most of it, as they fully clicked into gear and the goals started to flow.
Nile continued his fine form in front of goal with a strike early in the second half. Francis, who was making the most of the space on the right hand side fed Wiktor who played the ball into the box, where Nile controlled it and slammed it home with force. 2-0.
The one-touch football was a delight to watch now as the Sharks pushed forward. Gabriel was next on the scoresheet, as he received the ball from Ben on the left, turned well and fired a low shot into the bottom corner. A well taken goal for 3-0.
Then Francis beat his man on the right, and powered in a cross which fell to Wiktor on the penalty spot. He chose his spot and slotted it home with aplomb.
Gabriel then turned provider as he surged down the left wing, using the width of the pitch well. His cross who played in by Wiktor, first time, into Nile, who met it sweetly on the run and smashed it high into the net for his second and the Sharks’ fifth. An excellent team goal and some superb football.
A sixth soon followed as the Sharks looked rampant. Francis again provided the through ball to Wiktor who skilfully evaded his marker before curling the ball into the net. A second for Wiktor and 6-0 to the Sharks.
We changed things around now to give some of the defenders a chance further forward and to give Alejandro a rest. But we always miss his presence at the back and we suddenly looked a little shaky.
Cheam won a corner and played it in to the near post. It wasn’t properly cleared and the ball fell to a Cheam player a few yards out. He stabbed it towards goal where Rory dived onto it – but it had just crept over the line. Very harsh on Rory who certainly deserved a clean sheet – but probably fair on Cheam who created a few chances throughout and gave us a tough game again first half.
We’ll work on our corners again at training – and on coping without Alejandro, who will be resting along with everyone else for a couple of games during the remainder of the season.
Wiktor played in Ben with a great ball on the edge of the area. Finding himself free, Ben shot first time and beat the keeper only to see the ball cannon back off the post. Unlucky for Ben: he’s not having much luck in front of goal right now, but if he keeps getting into the right positions, goals will come.
There was time for one more for the Sharks though, as Phin, in his advanced role, received the ball on the edge of the box. He controlled it well before turning and shooting high into the net for a fine goal. 7-1 – and the last of the action.
It was a terrific win for the Sharks, who played some fabulous football and continued their rich vein of goal scoring. We’re slowly catching Oxshott in the goal difference stakes, and matching them win for win right now.
It’s great to come back after Christmas and pick up the good form. Well done boys!
Let’s keep it up next week with an away fixture against Kew Association Colts – another team we need to be wary of despite earlier victories, because Oxshott only beat them 2-1 in a recent game.
Thanks to Jim for running the line and to Kasia for her excellent photos.