After a cold and gloomy week, the day was full of sunshine for our last game of the group stage. On the back of a well-deserved victory the previous week, a hefty win was still required to go through against the group leaders so it was always looking like an uphill struggle. Nonetheless, the players decided to go out and give it their all on a hot day of Ramadhan.
The first 10 minutes were looking relatively even before a second ball that was not cleared in the box handed Mill End possession before grasping the lead. Stanmore then looked to be getting into their stride with a midfield three consisting of Murtaza, Mohamedmehdi and Gibran, stringing a nice set of passes together. However, it was a difficult task to work the ball in the final third and grab an equaliser.
Not long after, a ball whipped across goal unfortunately met with our centre back before finding the back of our own net. Nevertheless, the game was looking positive with Maisam putting in a shift in at right back while Maitham often got the better of their left back on the right wing. Shortly before the halftime whistle, Mill End extended their two goal advantage via an unreachable shot from the edge of the box to the bottom right hand corner.
In spite of the three goal disadvantage, the Stanmore captain, Hussein Pirbhai, refused to give up and made way for a new centre back to replace him in order to direct our team from the sidelines while handing out words of encouragement to the squad at the break.
The first 20 minutes of the second half was a stalemate with a slick bit of interplay between Yaseen and Mazharali leading to a Stanmore free-kick on the edge of the box. This was unluckily not capitalised upon due to a set-piece that was sent just wide of the keeper’s goal.
Our well-known striker Amirali, who graciously filled the role of goalkeeper as a result of a couple absentees, confidently punched out an incoming cross but the ball fell to the opposition’s feet who slotted it in to make it four goals to none.
Another outstanding save was made by our keeper but the game was sealed for good minutes later from a ball over the top of the defence which was headed down into the goalie and then deflected into the back of the net.
A result of 5-0 does not reflect the effort put in by the players despite the difficult circumstances. Having said that, we will focus on the positives of the game which included the high possession held for spells in the game and aim to correct the errors before the next season.
A huge thanks goes to the organisers behind the scenes who have made this season, although disrupted, possible including Mohammed Valjy and Mazharali Gulamhussein. It has been a great experience for the players and community to learn from. We intend to come back even stronger when the new season commences with a much-anticipated community cup also around the corner.