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A close-fought match

Moor Mead Athletic 3 Chessington Sports Youth 1.

Moor Mead produced a determined, disciplined performance to beat quality opposition in a close-fought match which provided a severe test of the Parakeets' ability to thrive in the higher leagues.

Chessington came with a formidable reputation, and a well-drilled physical pressing game.

At times it was like a zoo out there, but Moor Mead eventually tamed their opponents with resilient, focused teamwork, which can only bode well for another successful season.

On a beautiful Autumn morning, Moor Mead made a hesitant start, pushed on to the defensive by quick tempo passing and hustling from the opposition.

But Mani created a chance with a dancing, twisting run, and then set up William, who sliced wide.

Sam, the Parakeets' outstanding performer in the early stages, made several surging runs from midfield, and Mani twice threatened with difficult chances.

William saw a cross shot go wide, and Jake forced a save at the near post when put through by Dilly.

But at the other end Alec had to be alert to tip a powerful rising shot around the post, as Chessington continued to pose a threat.

The Parakeets took the lead, perhaps slightly against the run of play, thanks to a solo effort from Dilly, who robbed an opposition defender, and expertly slotted into the top corner.

A snapshot on the turn from Chessington flew wide, but Miles, becoming more influential after an uncharacteristically subdued start, released Dilly, who flashed a dangerous ball across goal. Miles then fired wide himself.

At the other end Daniel scurried the ball away as it bobbled across the box, and a Chessington shot looped over from an acute angle.

In truth Moor Mead were somewhat fortunate to reach half time a goal up, and they faced an extended period of pressure at the start of the second period.

Daniel, with his battle face fixed firmly on, was a key presence at the back, as the Gibson Roar echoed across the pitch, its camber accentuated by the lower-lying late September sun.

But it was no surprise when Chessington took advantage of leaden-footed defending to bustle in an equaliser from close range.

Moor Mead continued to be penned back, but Mani surged through, only to be denied by strong defending.

They then re-took the lead with a great team goal. Sam fed Daniel with an incisive pass, and he created the opportunity for Mani to deploy all his “fox in the box” nous to beat the keeper on his line.

But if anybody thought Chessington were now easy meat for the Moor Mead pack, they were wrong. A lobbed cross caused confusion in the Moor Mead defence, and their number nine should have done better, scuffing wide when presented with a clear chance.

Next Alec got down well to smother a low shot, and Chessington were very unlucky when a cracking shot smacked the inside of the far post, only somehow to stay out.

The tackles started to crunch in, as the intensity ramped up another gear, but Daniel and Ben at the back stayed strong.

Still, Chessington pressed, and wasted another golden opportunity to draw level.

But Moor Mead, with the QPR scout looking on, had saved the best until last. Sam surged forward to set up Miles, who buried a side foot shot into the corner.

William almost added a fourth when his clever outside of the boot shot clipped the post.

If the pre-match hype had summoned up fears of lambs to the slaughter, they were dispelled by a gutsy performance, which saw Moor Mead bloodied at times, but ultimately in for the kill: less Parakeets, more tigers.

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