An interesting friendly for a depleted Sharks team against a much-improved Kew Association Youth side. It was a chance for the players to experience new positions, especially the defenders who enjoyed their opportunities to play at the other end of the pitch for once. In the end there were two goals apiece for Nile and Sebas, one for Ben and a veritable hatful of near misses.
A party and other commitments had robbed the Sharks of 5 players, so the available squad was down to 8. Kew kindly agreed to lend us a player – Dorian – who did a fine job throughout (and almost managed to score a few times).
Kew Association have developed well this season. A completely new team for this year, they showed some real steel and some good passing play, making life difficult for the Sharks.
The starting line up was familiar enough with Jakub in goal, Jake at right back, Alejandro in the centre and Rory at left back. Phin was defensive midfield with Ben, Nile, Sebas and Dorian across the attacking midfield positions.
The Sharks were soon forcing the play with excellent interchange amongst the front four and solid defending at the back. But Kew were proving a hard nut to crack.
Eventually, Sebas opening the scoring with a belter from the edge of the box after a ball into the area from Jake was only half cleared.
Kew then replied after winning a free kick on the edge of the area. Their player fired in a superb curling left foot kick that clipped the underside of the bar and bounced over the line. It was an excellently executed free kick and gave Jakub no chance.
Nile then retook the lead for the Sharks with an excellent strike after Ben had swerved round three defenders and into the area. He unselfishly squared the ball to Nile, who stroked it home perfectly first time. A sweet move.
Nile and Ben played some lovely stuff between them on the left during the first half – with great first time balls and quick inter-passing.
The Sharks continued to press but couldn’t find further goals before half time, despite close efforts from Nile, Ben, Sebas and Dorian.
The second half saw the Sharks shift up a gear and establish a comfortable lead. Rory went into goal, Jakub came in at left back, Jake moved to defensive mid, Phin went to centre mid, with Ben moving to right wing.
Jake and Phin were brilliant in their advanced roles. Both showed great vision and awareness with their use of the ball, as well as firm tacking.
Jake played a beautiful through ball that lead to the third Sharks goal – the second of the day for Sebas. Picking it up in the centre, Jake threaded a perfectly weighted ball to Sebas on the edge of the area. He controlled it first time and shot hard into the corner of the net. A fine goal.
Then Nile added his second, after a great run from Jakub on the right, who beat his man and played in a fine cross, which Nile slammed home.
It was soon five as Sebas turned provider. He neatly sidestepped two men on the right and played a devastating through ball into Ben’s path. Ben carried it into the area and calmly slotted it under the keeper and into the net. 5-1.
The Sharks were cruising now and it looked as though they’d run up a big score. Instead they created about 25 chances and just couldn’t put them away.
We decided to shift things round at this point, so Ben went to right back, Sebas went to centre back and Nile & Dorian had a stint each at left back. Alejandro joined Phin in midfield while Jakub went to right back.
And the chances flowed, but the goals wouldn’t come. Phin had a shot on the edge of the box that went narrowly wide. Alejandro smacked a shot against the post, which fell to Ben on the right, and he in turn smacked it against the cross bar. Jakub played a beautiful chipped ball, which found Alejandro in space, but he just couldn’t connect properly and the ball ran wide. And there were pinball chances aplenty as the ball fizzed around the Kew box but just wouldn’t fall for a Shark.
Almost inevitably, Kew broke away and scored a good goal – their striker turning well on the edge of the box and curling an unstoppable shot past the diving Rory.
And that’s how it ended. 5-2 to the Sharks.
It was a good workout ahead of this weekend’s final league match against Abbey Rangers. And I think all the boys enjoyed themselves.
Hopefully they’ll sign off the terrific season with another win on Sunday and maybe even finish as top scorers if they’re on song.
Thanks to Nick for running the line this week.