Match report by Nick Simon

15 March 2015

Sharks undone on The Ides of March

Although the Sharks were not the first team that failed to heed the Ides of March, Sunday’s late denouement still felt pretty cruel, as the team did enough in the second half to at least draw and maybe even win the game

The latest fixture reshuffle matched us against Corinthian Casuals again, just two weeks after the 5-3 defeat in the away fixture against them, and it was clear from the way each side lined up on Sunday that the previous game’s goalfest was uppermost in rival managers’ minds. Although our opponents enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the first thirty five minutes, they still left sufficient cover at the back to prevent the speedier members of Sharks’ midfield and forwards breaking through, so even when Francis played a precise crossfield pass to Ben, a consistent wide option, halfway through the first half, our opponents still had sufficient numbers back to clear the danger. The Sharks’ backline of Luca, Joel, Martin and Rory was very well organised against a strong Casuals attack, making numerous crucial interceptions and clearances, and on the rare occasions that our opponents found a way through them, Nile was on hand to gather the ball with aplomb. At the same time, Phin, Alejandro, Gabby and Sylvester worked tirelessly to frustrate the Casuals midfield. The pressure was hardly alleviated by the award of a couple of questionable free kicks just outside our penalty area, but our opponents failed to take advantage, choosing instead to fire the ball high and wide.

After half time, the pessimists amongst us took up a position level with the Sharks penalty area expecting more of the same, but our sons made a mockery of us, enjoying an extended spell of pressure. Our forwards caused numerous problems, Francis, Ben and Nile had several chances, and had the Casuals rattled, so much so that they resorted to niggling tackles that might not have gone unpunished on another day. With fifteen minutes to go, the opposition coaches made the decisive tactical move of the game, moving one of their defenders up into the forward line to wreak havoc. With a new element to be reckoned with, Sharks temporarily mislaid their defensive solidity and allowed one of their more diminutive opponents to hit a powerful shot past Sylvester from close range, all the more galling for the hapless keeper, who had taken over the gloves from Nile at half time and up until this undeserved setback had been a virtual spectator. Our nemesis was immediately withdrawn into defence again as the Corinthian Casuals played out the last ten minutes leaving nothing to chance.

Despite the defeat, this was still an epic performance by a team of walking wounded who managed to withstand almost everything that one of the strongest teams in the division, with their numerous substitutes and vociferous coaches, could throw at us. Anyway, it seems likely that they will only finish fourth in the division when other teams catch up on their games in hand, so we can look forward to doing battle with them again next season!