A PUSKAS-WORTHY strike from Noah Hussein came close to earning Stanmore a point away at Holy Trinity – but the clinical hosts clinched the game in the end.
The midfielder became the club’s top scorer this season with an audacious chip from 20 yards which sailed over the keeper’s head as SJFC rallied from behind in the second half.
But in an end-to-end affair, it was the hosts who took their chances and came out 3-1 winners.
Another strong defensive start full of aggression and focus allowed SJFC to weather some early pressure from the hosts, with Ali Hussain Sumar putting in a commanding performance in goal behind Mehdi Lakha and Aliabbas Dharas – the U9’s own version of Virgil Van Dijk and Joel Matip.
A goalless 12 minutes was quickly undone, however, as Holy Trinity threw an extra man forward in the second quarter and took advantage of some underhit clearances to tap home.
At the other end, Danyaal Panju and Mahdi Kermali provided both passes and runs in behind to support Ali Husayn Walji, who came close on two occasions.
A second half where SJFC would attack downhill beckoned.
Ehsaan Dhanji relished the chance to turn on the jets, giving the defenders a torrid time – whether he was running at them and shooting or pressing from the front.
It was the high pressure that got Stanmore their reward. With Holy Trinity unable to clear properly, the chance emerged for Noah to lob the keeper, and he took it emphatically.
SJFC were quickly pegged back with a deflected effort sneaking in the near post at the other end, before a very dubious penalty for handball was awarded while the defender threw himself in front of a shot.
Mehdi Bhimji, making his first appearance in goal this season, comfortably saved before sending his now-motivated team forward on the counter.
SJFC stayed in their half for much of the rest of the game, with some brilliant saves from the Holy Trinity keeper preventing the equaliser.
Throwing men forward was always going to lead to gaps at the back, however, and Stanmore were caught sleeping at the back post as the hosts rounded off the game.
There was still time for another late rally, however. Kermali came on up top and got in behind three times, only to be denied by last-ditch tackling. Ehsaan Dhanji took the ball past three players before seeing his effort cleared off the line. And an inspired performance from Hussain Dhalla at left-wing back saw a fiercely struck effort whistle just wide.
Manager Kumail Jaffer said: “The passing, defending and positioning for much of the game was excellent. The finishing will come in due course, naturally.”
Ali Husayn Walji
Ali Hussain Sumar