A fantastic away win for the Sharks against a tough Hanworth team, with all the boys’ best qualities on show: determination, strength, spirit, skill and fine passing football. They came back from 1-0 down and scored some superb goals to cement their hold on second place in the table.

It was a fairly small pitch, which meant the Sharks would have to battle hard in the crowded midfield and pass the ball cleverly to make use of the limited space. Hanworth were a fairly big side, with plenty of presence, so it would be hard for the Sharks to get control and keep it.

The first half was certainly tough, but the Sharks were creating the better openings and playing the better football. Sebas and Wiktor were breaking well from the middle and using Francis and Ben on the wings.  But they just couldn’t convert their chances.

Wiktor went close first as he slipped past his marker and surged into the box, only to drag his shot wide. Then Wiktor sent Francis clear who get free, but couldn’t beat the keeper with his shot. 

Hanworth were strong in defence and hard in the tackle – and they could all clear the ball with some power – so the Sharks had to be wary of quick, long balls forward. A few times Hanworth looked as though they were going to cause problems, but the backline of Rory, Alejandro and Martin stood firm and got in some vital tackles and interceptions.

Jakub in goal was quick and alert and came off his line with great authority when called upon and dived on the ball bravely.

At the other end, the Sharks continued to look the more likely to score. Gabriel came on in the right wing position and was immediately in the action as Ben found him with a lovely through ball that split the defenders, but his shot was saved well by the keeper.  Sebas then wriggled free on the left and shot agonisingly wide of the far post with the keeper beaten.

Minutes later Ben found himself clear on the edge of the area after a neat touch from Gabriel. He ran through on goal and looked certain to score, but the keeper saved again.

On numerous occasions, the Sharks found themselves flagged for offside – something that has not happened often this season. Alejandro and Martin both had free kicks and floated in dangerous balls only for the flag to come up for offside. The Hanworth defence were well drilled and certainly played for offside.

Still, it only seemed a matter of time before there would be a goal.  But when it did come, against the run of play, it went to Hanworth.

Hanworth worked the ball well down the right wing and as the Sharks struggled to clear the ball bobbled around dangerously.  It fell to a Hanworth player outside the box and he hit it hard and low into the far corner – giving Jakub no chance.  A good goal, but desperately unlucky for the Sharks to find themselves a goal down after so much good work.

This season we’ve seen a new determination in the Sharks and rather than buckle under the injustice of the score line, they picked themselves up and fought back quickly.

Nile who’d come on for the injured Rory at left back was marauding down the wing, and went through one tackle and then another and found himself clear on the edge of the box.  He looked up and shot – right into the bottom corner of the net.  A great goal and a well-deserved equaliser for the Sharks just before half time.

At half time, we knew the Hanworth coach would be urging his team try to unsettle the Sharks who had been a bit hesitant at times in the first half. So we asked the Sharks to show us what they could do – stand up to the physical battle and use their football to win the game.

And that is exactly what they did.

It’s no exaggeration to say they were magnificent second half. Every single Shark showed courage, grit and determination – and persisted with their passing football to carve out opportunities and win the game.

No one embodied the spirit more than Phin – who was outstanding, especially in the second half. Playing an unfamiliar role as defensive midfielder, he tackled hard, never flinched, and used the ball intelligently.  At one point he had four opposition players around him and he still emerged with the ball – and played it into space for Nile on the wing.

Alejandro was also brilliant. He marshalled the defence masterfully, and timed his tackles perfectly, used skill to beat men and passed the ball cleverly. Hanworth hardly had a sniff all second half.

All the Sharks were excellent, tracking back, working and covering for each other – it really was a fabulous team performance.

The first goal came soon after the break, from a clever short free kick between Martin and Francis on the right. They exchanged passes and Martin fired in a powerful shot that was just too hot for the keeper to handle: all he could do was push it into his own net.  2-1 to the Sharks.

Minutes later it was 3-1, when Gabriel hammered home a fantastic volley from 25 yards out, straight from the keeper’s kick. Brilliant technique.They were turning on the style now – playing neat passing football in the middle and surging forward with pace and determination up front.

Phin won the ball in the middle again, and played a delightful through ball to Wiktor, who raced onto it and past his marker, and chipped it magnificently over the keeper with his left foot. A really classy goal all round.

The Sharks’ tackling at the back and in midfield was so good that Hanworth were restricted to the occasional long ball forward and down the wings. Jakub did not have much to do, but when he did he was excellent. One really high ball was pumped up into the area and looked as though it might be difficult to deal with. But Jakub was more than up to the task and caught the ball perfectly.

Nile came back on in the left wing role and was immediately in the action as Rory, having a great game at left back, sent him clear on the left. Nile played in a great early cross, and the ball bounced around dangerously before falling to Francis on the right who slotted it home neatly for 5-1.

Sebas then ran clear and fired in a fierce shot which the keeper did well to save – but could only push back out.  Sebas continued his run and tried to steer the follow up in – but it was a difficult chance at speed and he could only send it over the bar.  So close.

The game was almost over now, but the Sharks still had time for one more goal. Nile was again involved in the action as Sebas set him free on the left. He forced his way into the area with great strength and belted a cross shot with his left foot, which beat the keeper and nestled in the far corner net. 6-1.

And that was the last of the action.

It was tremendous win for the Sharks against their closest rivals for second spot.  It was a hard-fought win, but in the end a convincing score line and a highly satisfying performance.  Everyone should be very proud of the part they played.  Well done lads!

With Oxshott occupied in the cup quarter final last weekend, the win takes the Sharks level on points with them at the top of the table – although Oxshott do have a game in hand.  Makes good reading though!

 

U11s Division 4

                                                           P  W  D  L   F   A   GD  Pts

1 Oxshott Royals Colts                   9    9  0  0  54  6   48   27

2 Twickenham Sharks                   10  9  0  1   46  13   33  27

3 Cheam Sports                              10  7  0  3   24  19    5    21

4 Hanworth Sports                        9    6  1   2  27   19    8   19

5 Hampton Rangers Jrs               11   5  1   5   34  31    3    16

6 Kew Association Colts               10  3  2  5   19   32   -13 11

7 Surrey Predators                         11  3  1   7   12   29   -17 10

8 Meadow Sports Youth               9   2   3  4  20   31    -11  9

9 Abbey Rangers                            5    2   1  2  12    13    -1   7

10 AFC Walcountians Pumas      9    2   0  7  10   29   -19  6

11 Ewell Saxons Navy                    9    1   2   6  10   21   -11  5

12 Kew Park Rangers Royals       10  1   1    8  10   35  -25  4

It’s a home game against Ewell Saxons Navy this weekend – the team we played in the opening day of the season. Let’s hope we can continue the fine form with a good home win.

Thanks to Kasia for her super pictures.  And thanks to Nick for running the line this week.