A fine win at last for the Sharks and a great team performance. It was the pre-Christmas Sharks back, with great passing, solid defending and excellent team spirit. Everyone played their part in a magnificent 4-0 win, which could easily have been a lot more.
It was a cold, early morning start with a biting wind on an exposed pitch. But the Sharks were quickly into their stride and showing great commitment.
Nile soon opened the scoring, continuing his excellent run of form in front of goal. And although the Predators were physical and up for the fight, the Sharks more than matched them and were creating good chances with Wiktor, Gabriel and Nile combining well up front and Phin, Alejandro and Martin dictating things from the back.
Francis came on for Gabriel and the chances continued for the Sharks. Eventually the second goal came as Martin and Wiktor exchanged passes down the right. Wiktor skipped into the penalty area, dribbled round three Predators and slipped the ball to Nile. Nile controlled the ball well, turned and fired home with his right foot – a great finish to a great move.
The Sharks were deservedly 2-0 up at half time and in control of the game. Rory had been largely untroubled first half, but as ever he was alert to any danger and came off his line confidently when required.
There were definitely more goals in the game for the Sharks especially if they could exploit their pace on the wings and get in behind the Predators.
But the Predators came out of the blocks very well after the break and had a few minutes of dominance before the Sharks got themselves composed again and started to exert their authority.
Gabriel came back on for Nile, and the Sharks continued to create chance after chance with superb football. Francis was using his pace to beat his man time and again on the right hand side, with him and Martin combining well and overlapping to excellent effect. Wiktor and Phin were doing the same on the left and another goal looked likely any minute.
It came after great play between Martin and Francis who passed intelligently to Gabriel. He crossed the ball sweetly and dangerously into the penalty area, causing panic amongst the Predators’ defence. Uncertain what to do, one of their midfielders stuck his leg out to clear the ball, but it looped off his foot and over his keeper for an own goal.
The Predators continued to press themselves when they could – and the own-goal scorer had a great run and shot that just went inches wide.
But it was mostly the Sharks who were playing the good football, winning the balls in defence and midfield and exchanging passes impressively up front. Francis, Gabriel and Wiktor all went close in quick succession – and Martin was firing in superb corners.
The fourth goal, when it came, was the best of the lot. Alejandro won the ball well in the middle and fed Martin on the right. He passed to Francis who ran round his man and slotted the ball to Gabriel who took it in his stride and slipped it though to Wiktor on the left hand side of the area. Wiktor controlled it first time, steadied himself and calmly stroked the ball into the far corner under the diving keeper. A really superb goal, beautifully worked with quick incisive passing and a cool finish. A passing spectator commented to me on the quality: “What a brilliant goal” he said. “A lovely move. Very impressive.
Impressive it was.
The Sharks were enjoying themselves now and creating some great chances. Nile got away two or three times down the left but just couldn’t quite apply the finishing touch. Francis was getting away down the right and he saw a great effort go just wide of the post. Alejandro had a shot deflected over and Gabriel was unlucky not to score as he twisted in the area and fired into a mass of Predator bodies. The Predators fought until the end and didn’t let their heads drop despite the scoreline – so all credit to them. But had the Sharks made the most of their chances they could have had another three or four goals.
And it’s heading for an exiting end to the season. As other teams play their final games this weekend, the Sharks have an outside chance of finishing in the runners-up spot and getting promotion. Barnes Eagles, who were steaming up the table, stalled at the weekend with a defeat to Waddon. Their final game is also against Waddon – away – so they might not get any more points. They currently have 25. The Lions currently have 27, with an away match to come against Ashford Town, who have 24 points. If Ashford win that, they’ll join the Lions on 27 with all their games played.
That would leave things in the Sharks’ hands. With 21 points now, we have two more games to come. A win on Sunday against Target Sports would give us 24 points with our final game to come against Waddon. A win against them would see us onto 27 points and second place thanks to our excellent goal difference.
Of course, it will be a tough ask – and we’re waiting for the right results this weekend in other matches, but it’s good to be in with a shout as it comes down to the final games of the season.
It could be a cracking final home match against the Champions Waddon on 27th March – with promotion to play for.
But first we need to play well and win on Sunday. Let’s hope the boys take some confidence from Sunday’s result into the game.
It’s all to play for!
Thanks to Kasia for the great photos. She even got told off by the ref this week for wandering onto the pitch in her search of the perfect shots. Now that’s dedication!