A really excellent win in the boiling sunshine for the Sharks to maintain their 100% start to the season against a decent Cheam Sports team who had been enjoying their own good form. It was a superb team performance, with some fine interplay and understanding between the boys, some breathtaking attacking football and some outstanding defending.
Cheam Sports are another new team for this season, but they have started well and they made things tricky for the Sharks in the opening 10 minutes.
But after a little tactical tweaking, and the arrival of Wiktor and Gabriel from the sidelines, the Sharks began to find their rhythm. Elliott was again finding time and space in the middle, while Nile Sebas, Wiktor and Gabriel were clever and bright in attack.
The first goal came as Elliott won the ball in midfield with a great tackle and set Wiktor free. He held off his man well and played Sebas in with a neat through ball. Under pressure from two defenders, Sebas showed his strength and skill, firing an unstoppable shot into the top corner from the edge of the area.
At the other end, Cheam were causing a few problems themselves with strong running, but as usual the Sharks’ defence was unbeatable. Phin, Martin, Alejandro and Elliott all put in excellent interceptions to deny Cheam any clear-cut opportunities.
Rory was magnificent throughout the match and thoroughly deserved his clean sheet. He was alert and quick, and raced out a number of times to confidently sweep up long through-balls, and then distribute the ball with intelligence. An excellent goalkeeping performance.
The heat was making it very hard work for all the players, so there were frequent changes to give everyone a regular rest. Ben came back on after a subdued start and was much more like his old self. He combined well with Phin on the left after a good kick out by Rory and played Wiktor in with a delightful through ball. Wiktor raced onto it, outran the defence into the area, but just squeezed his shot wide of the post. Wiktor then played Gabriel in beautifully, who similarly ran clear, only to fire his shot inches over the bar.
From the goal kick, Wiktor pressed the defence with some great work, forcing the defender to play the ball hurriedly. The attempted clearance hit Wiktor’s outstretched foot and looped into the net for the second goal. Excellent forward play.
The Sharks were looking good now and continued to create chances without adding to the score. Francis was continuing his fine start to the season with some excellent runs from the right, alternating with Gabriel who was showing great strength and skill to surge down the right hand side and fire in some great crosses.
Martin came close with a fierce free kick on the edge of the box, but it just whistled past the post. And so it went into the break still at 2-0.
The second half saw a magnificent team display from the Sharks, with fluid passing, great movement and skill throughout the side. The communication was excellent and the boys really used the width of the pitch at both ends to work the ball fantastically well. They created so many chances, it was a surprise they only managed to add one goal to the scoreline.
Gabriel stepped into right back and was brilliant, secure in defensive duties and linking up superbly with Francis on the right, who was marauding and creating a chance almost every time he got the ball.
One great twisting run led to the third goal midway through the half as Francis beat off his man, raced into the box and fired in a low shot which deflected off a defender into the net. It was going in anyway, so a definite and well-deserved goal for Francis.
In the middle Nile was continuing is great striking form, laying off the ball well and using his strength to good effect. He almost added to the score after another great run and cross from Francis. But Nile couldn’t quite get enough power on his shot and the keeper saved it well.
At the back there were magnificent tackles from Alejandro, Elliott, Phin and Martin, who were not only winning the ball back, but bringing it forward and using it well to launch fresh attacks.
All the front players went close – Wiktor, Ben, Sebas, Nile and Francis all had further chances but just couldn’t find the net. In the end, they had to settle for 3-0 and a great performance.
It was probably the best we’ve seen the Sharks play this season, with everyone contributing to the win and the clean sheet. There were some good signs that the boys are listening and learning from the training, which is great to see. And the opposition were overheard saying how impressed they were with the Sharks, which is always good to hear.
Well done lads! 4 games and 4 wins so far this season. Let’s keep it up this Sunday with another home game against Kew Association, who we played a few weeks ago in the Cup.
Thanks to Ray and Jim for sharing the Assistant Referee duties this week.