RESILIENCE from back to front allowed Stanmore Jafferys to pick up their first three points of the season – and deservedly so.
A first-half hat-trick from the returning Mahdi Hassan Lalji was accompanied by scintillating attacking play and dogged defending to keep the visitors at bay.
The scenes at the end, which saw players run onto the pitch like they had won the league, were no more than this group deserved – and with many players fasting on a warm day, it was a brilliant effort.
Despite an intense start, chances were few and far between in the first period as both teams built up well but couldn’t find that final ball.
Ehsaan Dhanji proved a safe pair of hands in goal while the classic Dharas-Lakha partnership held Holy Trinity at arm’s length for much of the quarter.
A slight lapse allowed the visitors to score as the break approached, but SJFC weren’t to be deterred.
Making his season debut, Lalji transformed the result within five minutes. On numerous occasions this season the U9s have played excellently but haven’t converted the chance or closed out the game – but it all came together on Saturday with the finishing touch.
Noah Hussein’s driven corner was picked up by Lalji, who took two touches and hammered it in the far corner.
Two minutes later, another excellent run by Noah – after being released by Dharas – saw the winger square it for Lalji to sweep home.
And before the opposition could rally themselves, Lalji picked the ball up near the corner flag, beat two players and smashed it in the roof of the net.
Mehdi Bhimji whistled a powerful strike just over as SJFC piled on the pressure and threatened to score a fourth, but Holy Trinity held onto the scoreline till the half-time whistle.
The manager had the same message as always during the break – treat every period like a game in itself. Any complacency would allow the opposition back in it.
Muhammad Moosa and Muhammad Jawad Tejani slotted into defence and midfield to freshen things up after an intense first half, and carried out their roles admirably. Moosa’s intelligent positioning gave excellent cover to his centre-back pairing behind him, while Tejani – the team’s utility player – was strong in the tackle.
As a result, SJFC broke through numerous times, with Hussain Dhalla and Noah coming close to extending the lead.
The visitors reduced the deficit against the run of play with a nice counter-attacking move, but the U9s weren’t to be discouraged.
Top distribution from Dhalla in goal and Mohammed Haji at centre-half made for a reasonably comfortable fourth period in which SJFC had the better chances.
Tireless work from Bhimji in the midfield in the dying minutes helped round off a famous win for Stanmore.
Mahdi Hassan Lalji
Muhammad Jawad Tejani