A BATTLING second-half resurgence was not enough to make up for a below par first period as Stanmore continued their search for their first win of the campaign.
With the four new signings all in the squad – and one, Hassan AliMohamed, making his debut – the mood was expectant as the players took to the field following the U10s’ resounding victory on the same pitch.
But the match, to put it frankly, did not start well.
SJFC were immediately put under pressure and deservedly went 2-0 down early on. After settling in, Hussain Dhalla and Ehsaan Dhanji tried to launch a number of counter attacks but found themselves doubled up as tired midfielders struggled to support them.
A long ball from the opposition centre back was then unfortunately sliced by the SJFC defender and the powerful Chalfont striker drove home.
The side did wake up in the second quarter, with Mahdi Kermali playing some nice passes out wide and Mehdi Lakha showing newfound aggression in defence. Noah Hussein stung the goalkeeper’s gloves with a fierced effort – but down the other end of the pitch, a goalmouth scramble saw a fourth go in following some end to end football.
Half time came around and the manager was blunt in the team talk – the first half was simply not up to the technical or effort standard required of the SJFC name.
It had the intended effect – they came out firing in the second period.
A relentless high pressing effort saw Muhammad Moosa tackle their goalkeeper and slot home, while Noah Hussein made it 4-2 after great pressing from the front three.
Mahdi Kermali’s linkup play with Muhammad Moosa and Noah Hussein then led to another golden chance, but a last ditch sliding tackle prevented Moosa from getting his second.
Ali Husayn Sumar’s reinvention as a tough tackling centre back continued, while Qasim Khoja was excellent in distributing the ball from goal.
But a couple of 50/50 tackles lost in the middle of the park saw Chalfont dink it into the area and hammer it into the bottom corner to blunt SJFC’s momentum.
Zaynali Mohamed was forced into some nice saves in the fourth quarter as SJFC left themselves open at the back going for broke, while Mohammed Haji made a number of last ditch interventions to halt counter attacks.
At the other end, SJFC carved open one glorious chance after a number of one-touch layoffs and flicks, drawing applause from home and away fans alike.
SJFC showed that when on their game, they can have any team on the ropes. It’s all about developing consistency of play and being calm on the ball.
Ali Hussain Sumar
Qasim Abbas Khoja