A local derby which whipped up some pre-match excitement for the teams. Plenty of rivalry as a lot of the boys know each other, but Shinfield players definitely feeling like the underdogs on the day, expecting this to be a walkover for Laurel Park.But the game didn’t go that way. Early in the game the play was very balanced. Some early attacks by Laurel Park thwarted by Luis as he controls his area well. First real chance fell to Max as a lovely through ball saw him running at the keeper with two defenders hot on his shoulders. But as he ran fast at the goal, Max tapped the ball forward with too much weight and the goalkeeper was able to come and collect.Not much later, at the other end, a Laurel Park corner sailed high and deep into the Shinfield six yard box, was deflected onto the post, and as it came out the referee saw a handball infringement and awarded a penalty. Laurel Park stepped up and despite a low hard shot, it was a little too central and Luis dived expertly to smother the penalty. Nice save. Back at the other end a corner drops to Jack Brown who hooked it just over the crossbar.
With the play relatively even, Casey collects a throw-in on the right flank, knocks it left across the edge of the box to Ellis. Without bothering to control the ball, Ellis quickly flicks the ball high over the keeper to put Shinfield into the lead. 1-0
Laurel Park don’t sit back though and continue to attack, trying to slot the ball through our defence. Our back four are up to the challenge though with Jack, Dan, Ajay and Vinay keeping things tight and playing safe when the pressure is on. Up front, Max and Ellis are hastling well with our midfield and wingers trying hard to provide them with opportunities.
Then, as half time approached, a very long goal kick from Laurel Park bounced high and awkward just in front of the Shinfield area. Casey tried to connect but failed to clear and a Laurel Park attacker took advantage and slammed it past Luis to level the scores. Laurel Park now sense a turn in fortunes and continue to pile on the pressure. An attack down the left results in a low hard drive at the bottom left corner of the Shinfield goal but Luis dives feet first to deflect the ball for a corner. Shinfield hold on well for the remaining couple of minutes to take a 1-1 score into half time.
The second half followed much the same pattern. Good open play from both sides. The main danger from Laurel Park coming from corners and through balls. Shinfield continue to defend well, Tom playing some thoughtful balls out from defence having swapped sides with Dan after an Ajay injury in the first half.
Then a goal for Laurel Park as a corner is lofted nicely into the Shinfield six yard box was headed solidly into the right of the Shinfield goal, leaving Luis standing. 1-2. Shinfield kept their chins up though and continued to create chances. Aidan was brought down on the edge of the box. Casey took the free kick but launched it into the wall. Minutes later, Aidan was floored yet again on the left side of the box for another free kick – Aidan tried to hook it into the far top corner but it just cleared the bar by inches.
Shinfield continue to apply pressure to level the game. Two Shinfield corners come to nothing and at the other end our defence is on hand to snub out the fast breaks. And laurel Park are keep to extend their lead at the other end. One shot shaves the wrong side of the left post. Then an attacker drives into the box on the left – Luis comes out, is beaten by the attacker who tries to slide the ball into the goal at an angle. But a certain goal is thwarted by Vinay who slides in to deflect the ball out for a corner – lovely defending by Vinay.
Shinfield go into the final minutes with energy, a nicely worked piece of play ending with Ellis getting an opportunity – his shots just slips wide of the left post. Then Max on the right runs to the goal line, whips a lovely ball across the face of the goal, but nobody quite placed to tap it home. Nice play. Final whistle sees Laurel Park the victors, but not by the margin the boys had expected.
The team put on a good show today, showed some fighting spirit and only just lost in a game which could have gone either way. All the boys played well. Two notable performances from JackT and Tom, whilst not being the fastest players in the team, sure showed some good control and thoughtful passing today.
Well done boys, you did yourself proud today.
Scorer: Ellis G
Trophies: Jack B, Max S
Reported by Chris Starke