Another excellent away win for the Sharks who continued their fine form with a 5-1 victory over a much improved Kew Association Colts side. There was some great football on show, some tough tackling and some super goals. And there might well have been more, as the Sharks hit the woodwork no less than four times.
We thought Kew would offer stiff competition, despite earlier wins against them at home in the League and the Cup. They played Oxshott Colts a few weeks ago and were narrowly beaten 2-1 – and apparently could even have earned a draw, spurning a last minute chance to level things.
So we knew the Sharks would have to be at their best.
And in the winter sunshine they started well, with Francis and Nile in the middle, Ben and Jake wide, Elliott in defensive midfield and Alejandro, Gabriel and Rory in defence – with Jakub in goal.
Kew were snapping into the tackles and quick to close down, but the Sharks were really up for it. Elliott was winning everything in the middle and feeding Francis, who was playing intelligent through balls to Ben, Jake and Nile.
Ben was a whirlwind of action, taking on his man, cutting inside and playing good, dangerous crosses into the box. On the opposite side Jake was seeing a lot of the ball and using it well. He’s really growing in confidence week by week and he was beating defenders, playing one twos and creating decent chances.
At the other end, Kew were restricted to occasional forays – but the Sharks’ back line held firm. Alejandro was his ever-reliable self – winning tackles, bringing the ball out of defence with confidence and distributing it well.
Rory is turning into a great defender – hard to beat, tenacious and good with his use of the ball. He linked up really well with Ben on the left wing and snuffed out the danger when required in defence.
On the other side, Gabby was solid and quick – and also excellent in his use of the ball, setting up attacks with well-timed tackles and clever through balls.
One of the best things about the Sharks is how well the defenders use the ball. They’re all comfortable in possession and are reluctant to hoof it away unless it’s absolutely necessary. All the boys who play at the back regularly – Phin, Martin, Alejandro, Rory, Gabriel, Jakub and Jake – are confident enough in their own abilities – and their teammates’ – to pass the ball out of defence when they can. Their first thought is always to look for the pass and set up an attack – and that’s wonderful to see.
And in goal it was great to see Jakub taking command of his area – coming out quickly to collect balls and shouting for the ball when he could see his defenders wondering whether to play it or not. Good goalkeeping.
Back in attack, and the Sharks were pushing for the opening goal. Francis exchanged passes with Ben and chipped the ball towards the goal but it landed on the top of the crossbar and went behind for a goalkick.
On the other side Jake set Nile up with a nice though ball and Nile shot only for the keeper to hold it well. Elliott had a shot blocked from the edge of the area: only some good defending was keeping the Sharks out now.
Eventually the opening goal came as Francis again played in Ben with a lovely through ball. He skipped past two defenders and played in a perfect cross with his left foot. It whizzed across the six-yard box, but no one could make contact and the Colts cleared the ball – but only as far as Francis who was on the edge of the area. He hit it first time, perfectly, and it looped high over the keeper and into the net. Great goal and 1-0 to the Sharks.
Phin and Sebas came into the action now – and minutes later it was 2-0 as Ben made good progress down the left again. He was fouled and Alejandro stopped across to take the free kick. He crossed it into the box, where it was partially cleared and fell to Sebas, who made no mistake with a quick, clever, low finish in at the near post. A very neat goal.
It was all Sharks’ pressure now as they played the ball around neatly and confidently – with good one and two-touch football. Gabby, Nile, Sebas and Ben all had shots which went just wide – or which the keeper did well to save. Ben then saw a snap shot cannon off the post and Nile just shot wide after good work from Sebas.
The third goal came as the half drew to a close. Elliot won the ball with a superb tackle in the midfield and fed Sebas who sprinted clear and slotted the ball perfectly past the keeper for his second of the game. And so the half ended 3-0 to the Sharks.
Kew came out with renewed determination and played a couple of quick high balls into the Sharks’ half at the start of the second half. But Alejandro, Rory and Phin were on their toes and dealt with the danger well.
A slightly higher line from Kew meant there was space in behind them, and the Sharks started to exploit it. Francis was tormenting the right back and causing all sorts of problems for the Colts’ defence. But the Sharks just couldn’t quite find the finishing touch.
Sebas found himself clear after a fine though ball from Phin and looked certain to get his hat trick goal, but the keeper came off his line and saved well. Francis crossed to Jake who fired it towards goal only for the keeper to turn it behind for a corner. Nile then found himself clear on the left, beat the keeper and shot – only for the ball to bounce back off the post. Unlucky for all three players.
When the fourth goal did come, it was unlucky for the Colts. Nile was clear again on the left, beat his man and crossed the ball. It hit a defender and rebounced into the net for an own goal. Good work from Nile to make the chance – and 4-0 now to the Sharks.
They switched off a little at this point, and Kew got themselves a goal. A quick ball found its way down the left wing and despite some good challenges from Rory and Phin, the ball somehow bounced clear to a Kew attacker who crossed it low into the box. Jakub came out to meet it but couldn’t quite keep it out as a Colts’ attacker poked it home. Unlucky for the Sharks, but a reminder they need to keep alert for the whole match.
As it was, the Sharks soon restored their four-goal cushion as Gabriel played in Ben on the left hand side. From an acute angle he forced the ball in at the near post – a great finish which finally ended his recent goal drought, much to his relief!
There was still time for one more strike of the woodwork, as Phin played a great ball through to Ben who controlled it well, strode into the area and played a curling shot past the diving keeper. It looked a certain goal, but the ball banged against the post and came back out to safety.
And so it finished 5-1 to the Sharks. A good convincing win, with some great football, some great goals and some great tackling and aggression shown by the boys.
They’re warming up nicely for the Oxshott game in a couple of weeks. But first it’s a home fixture against Kew Park Rangers – whom we only narrowly defeated 2-1 earlier in the season. It’ll be another test for the boys – but I’m sure they’ll be up to it.
Thanks to Nick for running the line this week.