Moor Mead Athletic 4 - Albury Youth Eagles 6
Moor Mead’s unbeaten start to the season was blown away on a blustery day at Marble Hill.
The scoreline suggests a ding-dong battle, but in truth it all went wrong for the first 50 minutes and the Parakeets possibly became the first side ever to score four consolation goals.
The fight back was hugely to Moor Mead’s credit after they had been comprehensively taken apart for the first two-thirds of the match by their great rivals. There was no realistic way they were ever going to salvage a point, but hopefully they will have restored some self-confidence, which had taken a serious battering.
There were some good performances: Will S was outstanding throughout, Shaifulah made his presence felt to good effect, and Miles’ tenacity helped inspired the turnaround. But that doesn’t disguise a poor first half, which got even worse just after the break.
All previous matches between these two teams had been very close and decided by the odd goal, so a big crowd had gathered expectantly. The Parakeets had made a great start to the season, but a superb tackle on Shaifulah in the opening moments demonstrated that Albury were a much tougher prospect than previous opponents.
The visitors began to knock the ball around with great composure, and had the lion’s share of territory. They took the lead after 10 minutes with a looped shot over Alec from the edge of box (0-1)
At the other end, Zac produced a trademark burst down the right flank and managed a close shot under strong pressure, while Shaifulah combined probing passes and good link up play with muscle, one little nudge knocking an opponent half way to Orleans Park School. The Parakeets were holding out and hitting on the break, but then Albury doubled their lead with a well worked passing move, ending with a nod past Alec (0-2).
Zac took advantage of a defensive slip and sprinted clear, but his shot rolled agonisingly wide. Miles was pushed into midfield, but Albury were now in full control, adding a third with a cracking long-range effort (0-3), and hitting the crossbar after a scrum in the box.
Half-time offered a respite, and It seemed the only hope for Moor Mead was that the strong breeze blowing into their faces in the first half would whip up into a typhoon after the break, but it was their opponents who had the wind in their sails. Within minutes Albury had added three more goals, as the game threatened to become a humiliation.
First, shambolic defending gifted Albury a tap in (0-4), then a midfielder spun to slot home from a throw in (0-5) and a high quality free kick was deftly dispatched into the top corner (0-6). The floodgates had well and truly opened, and it seemed that Albury had an answer for every question Moor Mead posed.
But faced with total destruction, instead of capitulating, the Parakeets regrouped and came out (belatedly) fighting. Although too late in the game, Moor Mead managed to unearth their confidence and rallied. Dilly became the first player in the home team finally to test the Albury keeper, and then Shaifulah was expertly blocked as he tried to pull the trigger by Albury’s accomplished number three.
RORY leapt like a particularly athletic salmon to power home an Elliot corner with his head (1-6), and SHAIFULAH showed tremendous composure a few minutes later to clip home a second despite being surrounded by a clutch of defenders (2-6).
Albury were still dangerous, and Alec pulled off an excellent point blank save in a one-on-one. Will S and Louis combined well, with Louis shooting narrowly wide. Then Dilly, and Miles combined to set ZAC free, and he flicked home with the outside of his boot (3-6).
Zac broke down the left again, and once WILL S had retrieved the ball from somewhere near the Sussex coast, he floated a corner straight into the goal off the far post. (4-6). Suddenly, Moor Mead were in the ascendancy and both coaches were nervously checking their watches for different reasons. One more goal would have been very intriguing, but it wasn't to be as finally Moor Mead ran out of time.
Moor Mead will have to do better if they want to challenge the top sides for the title this year, but hopefully this first 50 minutes will be seen as a mere blip on their journey this season, with many twists and turns still to come.