A great start to the new 9v9 season for the Sharks with a fine 3-0 away victory over a dogged Ewell Saxons Navy team.

Some excellent performances all round, with neat forward play plus heroic defending and goalkeeping from Jakub to keep the clean sheet.

The Sharks started brightly putting plenty of pressure on the Saxons’ goal and mostly camping in their half. They couldn’t quite make the breakthrough as the Saxons defended with determination, but a series of early corners suggested the Sharks would make their dominance pay.

Sebas and Ben were having success on the right and left wings and linking up nicely with the midfield of Jake, Gabriel and Elliot and the full backs Phin and Martin.  Ben was using his pace well and one good run almost saw the opening goal as he raced past three defenders and into the box, only to see his shot go narrowly wide of the far post.

On the other side Sebas beat his man on a couple of occasions and crossed into the area only to see it cut out well by the Saxon defenders. Elliot also met a corner on the edge of the box, but his shot went wide.

At the other end, the Saxons were breaking well with long balls into space, but our defenders were more than up to the task of snuffing them out – and Jakub was quick to react when called upon and collected the ball with assurance.

The opening goal finally came midway through the first half, as Gabriel and Phin exchanged passes in a clever short corner.  Phin found Ben in space on the edge of the box and he dribbled around two Saxon defenders and powered into the area. He fired a low hard shot into the near post and past the keeper for a well-worked goal.

Nile then joined the game in his usual striking role – and immediately found himself in the thick of the action. Sebas and Gabriel found him with some delightful through balls and he was only thwarted by some great defending.  He then found himself in a one-on-one with the keeper, but his shot was well saved by the diving Saxons’ keeper.

Then the Sharks scored what they thought was their second, well-deserved goal and Nile was again at the heart of the action.  Gabriel found him well in the middle of the box and his shot was blocked, only to rebound to Sebas, who fired it home from the six-yard line.

Unfortunately the linesman (his Dad!) had flagged Nile as being offside in the original move and the goal was disallowed.  It was a shame for the Sharks, whose dominance should have been rewarded with more than a 1-0 lead as half time came.

The second half started much more evenly as the Saxons pressed for the equalizer. It looked as though the Sharks might regret not making their first half pressure count.  The Saxons were causing some real problems and creating some chances inside out box.  But the back line was strong.  Alejandro was imperious as ever, and Martin and Phin were their usual tenacious selves – tackling back hard and throwing themselves into blocks to prevent the Saxons scoring.

And they weathered the storm well, and by the midway point of the second half the Sharks were back on top.  Elliot came back on into his central midfield role and Jake pushed into right wing, and the Sharks started playing some superb passing football.  There were clever one-twos and delightful lay offs and it seemed a calming second goal would come soon.

Appropriately enough it came from some lovely attacking interplay as Elliot, Jake, and Nile exchanged passes and Sebas was sent clear with a beautifully weighted through ball from Elliot.  Just as he was shaping to shoot the defender tried to clear but could only steer the ball into his own net. Unfortunate for the Saxons, but relief for the Sharks who visibly relaxed a little with a two-goal cushion.

They then went into a real purple patch of attacking football, creating chances and piling the pressure the Saxons’ goal. Ben was finding space again and running at the defence, causing real panic, and on one run he won himself a free kick on the edge of the area.  Martin stepped up to take it and curled a fierce shot which the Saxons’ keeper just managed to turn around the post.

On his next run Ben skipped past two defenders and used his pace to surge into the box.  He chipped a lovely left foot shot over the keeper, but just as it was dropping into the net a Saxon defender somehow got back and hooked it over the bar.  Very unlucky for the Sharks, but astonishing defending from the Saxons’ player.  Great play all round.

But the Sharks got their reward from the resulting corner.  Gabriel whipped the ball into the area and it bobbled around dangerously before falling to Martin on the edge of the box. He fired in a shot which was parried by the keeper only to come out to Nile and Sebas who were both following up well for the rebound.  Nile got to the ball first and slotted it home confidently. 3-0 to the Sharks.

As the game drew to a close, the Sharks were looking a little tired in attack and the Saxons were pushing for a goal. But Alejandro and his defence were not going to give up their clean sheet easily and they showed incredible determination and bravery to keep the opposition out. Phin, Ale, Martin and Elliot all made last gasp tackles to deny the Saxons and Jakub saved brilliantly on a couple of occasions.

Finally the whistle went and the Sharks could enjoy a very pleasing victory.

A really great start to the season; three goals, a clean sheet and some great football – all away from home.  The new players are settling in really well – Jake was involved in lots of the neat attacking play and Elliot was excellent in central midfield, calm and composed on the ball and determined in the tackle. Sebas was quick and clever with his play and unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.

Special mention also to Jakub who was excellent in goal; secure in his handling, quick to react and good with his distribution.

Well done Sharks!  A cup game next week at home against opposition from our own division – so let’s hope we can keep up the good work and progress to the next round.

Damien

Thanks to Nick for running the line and Liliana for this week’s pictures.