STANMORE ran out of steam in the dying embers of their cup semi-final as they fell 6-4 to Chalfont St Peters.
Following a brilliant win last week, the U8s started brilliantly against a strong outfit away from home, pressing high and using the wings to great effect.
Hussain Dhalla invoked Cristiano Ronaldo with a swept finish into the bottom corner and an iconic ‘SIUUU’ celebration to start things off.
Noah Hussein doubled SJ’s lead shortly after as things looked to be going swimmingly for the buoyant side. Ali Hussain Sumar was cleaning up in midfield and distributing the ball nicely, and the team had a lovely balance.
But Chalfont gave Stanmore a taste of their own medicine in the second quarter, intercepting high up the pitch twice and netting both times. Zaynali Mohamed made two smart stops to prevent the side going behind.
But shortly before the half-time whistle blew, Noah Hussein hammered in a brilliant second of the game from distance to put SJ back in control.
There was only one objective from the manager at half-time – carry on the momentum and kill the game off.
And as Mohamed Moosa – always in the right place at the right time – whipped in a fourth, things were looking rosy.
Chalfont made a couple of adjustments and started playing in a more direct manner, putting balls in behind the SJ defence. Though Aliabbas Dharas dealt brilliantly with any loose balls all game, it gave Chalfont a territorial advantage approaching the final quarter – and they pulled a crucial goal back just before the fourth period.
SJ were still threatening up the other end – Qasim Khoja’s tackle set up Mahdi Hassan Lalji, who was denied by an excellent save from close range, while Muhammad Jawad Tejani twice went close as he sought his first goal of the season.
It was time to dig in for the U8s as the final was in their reach – but it wasn’t to be. A deflected clearance led to a sweet half volley from the Chalfont striker flying into the top corner, while a long ball in behind put the hosts ahead.
A brief hail storm stopped the match temporarily, allowing the manager one last rally to inspire his team.
And it almost came. Chances for Moosa, Lalji and Ali Hussain Walji were bravely blocked before a long-range free kick ended the game as a contest once and for all.
It’s worth remembering that this was a team that has convincingly beaten the U8s twice this season. To not only go toe-to-toe with this outfit but lead for the majority of the game is a testament to the players’ improvement.
Ali Husayn Walji
Muhammad Jawad Tejani
Mahdi Hassan Lalji
Ali Hussain Sumar