Moor Mead Athletic 4 - Walton Warriors Reds 0
Moor Mead Athletic kicked off their new Premier League campaign in style with a comprehensive win over promoted Division One champions Walton Warriors at a sunny Marble Hill.
It was as close to a complete performance as the Parakeets have ever produced, and sends a warning shot to the rest of the league. Every player made a telling contribution on a day when the home side’s football shone fiercely with intelligence, underpinned with a tremendous work ethic.
From William and Jeremias’s double act at the back, to Miles’ organisation, Dilly’s bite and Zac and Shaifulah developing into an irresistible force up front, there was much to admire.
To a backdrop of drilling, and what sounded like gunfire from the mean streets of Twickenham, Moor Mead made a firecracker of a start.
Zac produced a trade mark flick, Shaifulah hassled the defence, and Ollie’s shot forced a save. Then Zac, in electric form from the get go, set up his striking partner, only for Shaifulah to drag wide. Walton threatened momentarily with their pace, but the same combination quickly went close again.
Moor Mead started to follow Zac’s lead, Ollie and Miles moving the ball around fluidly and stretching the Walton defence every which way. All that was needed was some end product, and it duly arrived: Shaifulah, under pressure, flicked a header, from a throw-in, into ZAC'S path and he ignited the afterburners, scorching down the left flank, and giving the keeper no chance (1-0).
The Mensa football continued, with Ollie and Zac combining to go close, while at the back Jeremias’s man marking snuffed out any threat. Then, from nothing, Walton won a penalty. Alec was exposed by a hospital pass, and bobbly pitch, bringing down the striker who had pounced on the opening. However, he then produced a good stop to save a the spot kick.
Moments later the Parakeets extended their lead. Daniel’s long ball put Zac through, and although his powerful shot was well stopped, the ball fell to Dilly, whose clever lob picked out SHAIFULAH who made no mistake with a clipped finish (2-0).
Ollie went close on the stroke of half time, as Moor Mead assumed full control. The second period began in low key fashion, but just when Walton looked to be getting a foothold, SHAIFULAH mugged a hesitant defender, brought the ball under control deftly, and slotted home with precision (3-0).
From there on in, the Moor Mead School of Science was back in session. Ollie and Zac turned the screw, trading exquisite passes, and Elliot lobbed just over after bumbling at the back. Jake threatened down the left, and Dilly’s shot was blocked, only for OLLIE to slot home the rebound (4-0).
Moor Mead posed a threat from everywhere on the pitch, none more so than Rory, who had an outstanding second half at right wing back. Daniel narrowly failed to connect with a Zac back flick, and then - emblematic of the application and focus of the entire team - dived full length just to stop the balk from rolling out for a goal kick.
At the other end, Walton’s skilful winger was restricted to a long range effort which Alec gobbled up with ease. With the game over as a contest, Jake ran from the half way line to the corner flag and then into the box, setting up Shaifulah, who spun quicker than Peter Mandelson, only to be denied a hat-trick by a superb save.
Then we were treated to multiple Dilly step overs: “I’m slightly worried he might explode,” Gibson Senior commented, just before his son shot narrowly wide after a melee in the box.
Superb all round. Yes, it’s only the first game of the season, but, on this performance, it’s difficult not to think that we could be at the start of something special.