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A great learning experience

Moor Mead Athletic 0 Isleworth 2

Moor Mead failed to break their duck against their arch local rivals - but still produced a performance full of spirit and determination.

It may have been a friendly match, but the intensity never let up in a high quality contest between two well-matched teams which at times resembled a game of high speed chess.

On a quintessential Autumn day in Marble Hill with fallen leaves and sticks on the pitch the Parakeets were first to go close when Mani nodded wide from a Miles cross.

Sam then put a cross shot wide after a long, jinking run.

Isleworth saw a shot deflected narrowly wide, but chances were at a premium as the match turned into a tight battle for midfield supremacy, the ball pinged around skilfully by both sides.

The focus and discipline was impressive. As Richard Bennett put it: "I can't believe they are only nine years old."

Isleworth continued to press, but Kiran and William were solid at the back.

Miles came closest to breaking the deadlock with a snapshot on the turn, tipped away well by the Isleworth keeper.

The opponents went close at the start of the second period, but back came Moor Mead, Miles setting up Mani before seeing his shot blocked on the rebound.

Miles posed a constant threat from central midfield, while Jake was a danger down the right, but Isleworth were extremely well-organised at the back. Against lesser opponents, Moor Mead's probing would surely have produced results, but Isleworth were quick to snuff out danger time and again.

They then carved out a great chance at the other end, but Alec was alert at his near post.

Sam saw a header fly wide, and then shot past the post when put through by Miles.

But the second period ended with Isleworth in the ascendancy as Moor Mead started for the first time to lose a little shape. Alec produced a top drawer reflex save from a powerful close range shot, and a free kick curved over the Moor Mead bar.

Alec was again called on to smother a shot at the start of the third period, as Isleworth began to turn the screw with a period of extended pressure as they camped out in the final third.

Alec blocked a low, long range shot with his legs, and an Isleworth striker headed wide from a corner.

Finally the opponents broke through, but in controversial circumstances: a shot from the edge of the box bounced down from the Moor Mead bar, and the ball was bundled over the line. It looked as though Alec might have been impeded, but no whistle came.

To their credit, Moor Mead refused to buckle, and Miles, Sam and Charlie all had chances to equalise.

But Isleworth certainly finished the stronger. Alec produced a fabulous diving save after their striker had been set free.

They then put the game beyond doubt with a quality finish, smuggling the ball down the left flank at speed, before converting from an acute angle despite two last gasp tackles flying in from Kiran and Charlie. Checkmate.

Miles and Mani had shots at the death, but Isleworth were, in the end, worthy winners. A flock of parakeets flew past overhead and seemed to symbolise the end of Moor Mead's chances, as the final whistle sounded soon after.

But it was a great learning experience for Moor Mead. Each time they play Isleworth the match is closer. They just need a touch more Garry Kasparov inspiration to make the breakthrough.

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