Moor Mead Athletic 4 - 3 Albury Youth Eagles
Moor Mead Athletic triumphed in a pulsating match against Albury Youth Eagles at a sundrenched Marble Hill Park. The Parakeets were expecting a tough game against the league leaders, but none of the supporters basking in the sun could have imagined the excitement ahead as a memorable battle unfolded, packed with goals and incident.
Both teams were unbeaten, and neither had even conceded a goal this season prior to kick off - so something had to give. Unfortunately, Athletic started sluggishly and were behind after just 3 minutes.
Despite working on 'defending corners' in training just two days before (!) an Albury corner was met with an unchallenged header and Alec had no chance (0-1). Worse was to come only few minutes later, as Albury’s skilful and pacy left winger easily eluded two challenges and crossed for a well taken volley into our net (0-2).
The Albury players were now causing problems at will, and the MMFC Coaches were forced to take action. Switching from a 4-4-2 to a 4-5-1 formation, Moor Mead started to match them in the centre of midfield and gain a foothold in the game. It became a much more even contest as Moor Mead finally awoke to the task, and it was not a surprise when the Parakeets scored.
The Parakeets were now making regular forays into Albury’s half, putting their defence under immense pressure. Albury’s normally reliable centre back suddenly scuffed a backpass, and ZAC our cheetah-like forward was able to nip in to poke a shot past the keeper (1-2).
However, Albury struck another blow slightly against the run of play as they notched again, their tricky No9 knocking in the rebound after Alec initially saved a shot from the edge of the area (1-3). In fact, Albury had some excellent players and posed a considerable threat throughout the match, never giving up with an aggressive and skilful approach which was to their credit.
Then the match turned. Summer signing Shaifulah came on for his first Moor Mead appearance and made an immediate impact. Athletic grabbed the momentum, taking the game straight to Albury.
Will S and Ollie executed our corner routine perfectly, and Will's cross was met by LOUIS who headed the ball goalwards, flicking into the roof of the net off a defender (2-3). Half-time. The Parakeets were chomping at the bit now for the second half to begin and could sense their chance.
After the break, the Parakeets continued to work hard in packs to win the ball, when possible using slick passing to try and get our attackers through on goal. Mani, Ollie, Will S and Jake were providing the flair; Louis, Dilly and Miles acted as the engine room; and the defensive 4 of Rory, Will W, Jeremias and Daniel were now dominating and looked comfortable. Up front, the interchanging Shaifulah, Tom and Zac were absolutely terrifying Albury’s defence with real pace and power, which was fantastic for us all to watch.
Shaifulah hit the post, and was consistently getting into good positions; and after a nicely weighted through ball up the slope from Jake, SHAIFULAH raced through and lifted the ball over the stranded keeper to cap an impressive debut (3-3).
It was now a mesmerising game of end to end football, with tackles flying in as both teams were going at full steam for the win. Alec saved with his legs from point blank, Will W and Jeremias bravely blocked several shots and Albury went close with a looping header from a corner. Moor Mead also continued to create scoring chances, with our better passing moves coming down the right wing as the game went on.
Then a moment of high drama. Albury were convinced they should have had a penalty when Alec sliced a backpass on the bobbly, rock-hard pitch. The ball trickled behind him towards an empty net, and Alec then seemed to block their centre forward from running past to capitalise. Albury's vociferous protestations came to nothing, as the referee thought Alec was merely standing his ground to the relief of the MMFC support. Meantime, Jeremias whacked the ball away.
The game if anything seemed to speed up as we reached the last 10 minutes, and there was one more goal of rare quality to come. Zac picked the ball up deep in his own half near the left touchline, he beat three men with ease then laid the ball sideways near the centre spot to Ollie before sprinting forward at rapid speed. Ollie understood, and played the ball through the defence perfectly back into Zac's path. Now clean through, ZAC drew the keeper, went round him and slotted into the empty net (4-3).
It seemed the entire Athletic team and all of our supporters punched the air at the same time. A simply brilliant goal to finish a breathless match between two excellent U13 sides.