Samir Aalit ⚽⚽, Omar Karmali ⚽
Saturday 20 October 2018
Muswell Hill Sports Ground, Coppetts Road, London N10 1JP
SAL Senior Division 3
Match Report from Sam Connor
A warm summer afternoon greeted the return to league football for a vamps team looking to get back to victorious ways after feeling unfortunate to go out of the cup the weekend before. Returns to the team for Adam “the doctor” Mitchell, Omar Karmali, Luke Fitzgerald, Sam Lawrence, and Samir Aalit on the bench after an injury layoff.
Having recently made the long journey down to South London to face The Warren, we knew the trek they had just faced, and looked to exploit that with crossfield balls to find Omar speeding past their full back with ease. However, The Warren clearly had their Weetabix for breakfast, and continued to close down quickly, making it difficult to keep play flowing with a number of niggly fouls that distracted us from our game. Junior Bushiri, looking to make up for the blank the previous game was looking dangerous with the ball at his feet, and looked like he wanted to up his dribble stats, at one point sending a defender face planting into the grass like he’d spotted something good to eat. It was through this that the first goal came, as he was sent through and skipped past a couple of players on the six yard box. The whole pitch thought the cut back was the only option, including their keeper, but instead the ball was slid in the near post to see us 1-0 up.
We knew we weren’t playing at our best, and as the classic Saturday league calls of “we haven’t started playing yet have we” rang out, we wanted to start taking control of the game for the first time. However, the Warren had clearly not come all this way to roll over, and still looked dangerous on the break. The equaliser came as we looked comfortable in possession. The ball was knocked back to Amit Gagliani, and as the pass was sprayed out to the waiting left, it looked like the ball clearly came off the outstretched arms of their winger. However, the ref deemed it accidental and let the game play on as their winger rolled it in to an empty net.
As we moved in to the second half we knew that we had to play our normal game, and be confident that the goal would come, hoping that The Warren would tire and the spaces would open up. However, chances were hard to come by, and with more opportunities coming through set pieces a returning Samir Aalit was sent on up front to provide a focal point, replacing Omar, who hadn’t been following his fitness regime of morning sprints up the Copacabana. This changed the game, giving their defenders something new to deal with and opening up space around the box. Ali Manoli found a pocket, lifted a ball to the back post, and it was that man Aalit on hand to bundle the ball in for the perfect return to action. Finally a sigh of relief, as we looked to close the game out back ahead and the chances started to flow. First Karmali, back on the pitch, put the ball straight at the keeper after it was centred from Aalit , then finally the icing on the cake. Junior Bushiri found that sweet spot in between CB and left full back, was slid through by Ali Manoli, and after one touch rolled the ball calmly into the bottom corner. 3-1 and game over.
With other teams in cup action, it was a chance to put some distance ahead of us and Old Stationers in second. We need to keep taking on every game one at a time, with the same commitment and energy. Next week sees us travel to Hackney to face our next opponent Cambridge Heath, and continue our league momentum.
Amit Gagliani, Joe Ephgrave, Sam Connor, Adam Mitchell, Luke Fitzgerald, Dan Alldis, Tareeq Mustapha, Sam Lawrence, Ali Manoli, Junior Bushiri, Omar Karmali, Samir Aalit
Picking up the paper on a Sunday morning will tell you a run of the mill 3-0 win for the top of the table CEV against struggling Oldsmiths, but anyone watching the game will know differently. We started in high spirits, confidently switching the ball from side to side and making full use of a large pitch on a hot day to tire out the opposition.
Lining up in our familiar 4-2-3-1, our attacking options were picking up dangerous spots, and with Tommy dragging their full back out wide Ryan Harrington, Dan Couldridge and Ali Manoli were constantly looking for balls slipped behind to create the first opening. After a couple of headers looped over from set pieces, it seemed a matter of time and the opener came through Ryan Harrington, put through by Dan Couldridge, and the result was never in doubt as the ball was calmly rolled in to the bottom corner. Soon after the second came through Dan. Again the ball was rolled behind their defence, and having missed the first couple of opportunities, this time there was no mistake, nestling inside of the far post.
Then the game changing moment as we went down to 10 men with over an hour left to play. Tareeq Mustapha came on to steady the ship, as we reverted to 2 banks of 4 to survive the Oldsmiths onslaught. Huge shifts from everybody, not only physically, but mentally to keep our shape for so long, meant that Oldsmiths were reduced to crosses from the wing and long balls in to our box, which Amit was clearing up confidently for the whole game. Then finally, the clincher, Dan Couldridge was put through as we broke following an Oldsmiths attack. He got his body in the way and everyone could see from a mile off that the defender was going to take him down. He duly delivered. Penalty vamps. Set piece specialist Ali Manoli stepped up, and the net billowed as the ball hit the side netting. 3-0, and game over. Oldsmiths kept up their attacking but with fresh legs coming off the bench the shape wasn’t breaking, with Ryan, Nelson, Tommy and Gio on the wings making it into a Tony Pulis style back 6 in times of need. As the final whistle blew we knew it was a huge result to keep our 100% record going in two difficult games, and we march on down to Kew for our next challenge to keep top spot.
Scribe: Sam Connor
After laying down an early statement with six goals in the season opener, the second game of offered a completely different challenge, with the longest away trip of the year, and a hard, bobbly pitch in South London. Following Wanda’s departure and with Tareeq Mustapha and Amit Gagliani unavailable, we made the journey with some big changes in personnel, most notably Charlie Fleetwood making an appearance in the sticks, and veteran centre back Rob Webber returning to steady the back line.
Despite the journey, it was the home team who started off nervously. Ryan Harrington closed their back four constantly to win the ball high up the pitch, and he put the ball just over with a dipping volley in the first 5 minutes.
Moments afterwards, a trademark jinking run from Ali Manoli, cutting in from the left wing, nearly put the vamps ahead again but was crowded out at the last minute. However, the goal was coming, and following a dangerous corner the ball dropped at the feet of Sam Lawrence at the back post, who calmly slotted the ball in the back post. 1-0.
The Warren regrouped, and the momentum swung as they constantly looked to put long balls over the Crouch End defence. They hit the bar direct from a swinging corner, and after a great one-on-one save, their striker could only put his finish straight down the middle where it was cleared off the line by Sam Connor.
With the start of the second half we looked to regain control, but it quickly became clear that if we were going to win this one, we were going to have to grind it out.
The Warren stuck to their tactic of balls over the top and peppering the box with long throws, but we had chances on the break with Gio Torre, Omar Karmali, Ryan Harrington and Tommy Pidgeon, who came on in the second half to provide a dangerous outlet down the right wing. The effort everyone put in showed as players started to take longer to pick themselves off the ground as the second half wore on, and it was Joe Ephgrave’s turn to clear one off the line following a looped effort that was heading in.
As the final whistle blew we all knew it was a massive result, with huge efforts from everyone to show that we can win even in these difficult circumstances. A big shout out to Charlie Fleetwood, who cleared up everything that was thrown at him (I won’t mention the Alisson flick 5 minutes from the end), and to Kyle Mason and Mario Hitra, who made the long journey to help out the squad. Winning is a habit, and we keep our 100% record to stay top of the league at this early stage.
TEAM: Charlie Fleetwood, Joe Ephgrave, Sam Connor, Adam Mitchell, Luke Fitzgerald, Sam Lawrence ⚽, Rob Webber, Ali Manoli, Gio Torre, Omar Karmali, Tommy Pidgeon, Ryan Harrington
GOALS: WANDA NCUBE 3, JOE EPHGRAVE 2, ALI MANOLI
Scribe: Adam Mitchell
Vamps kicked off their new season at home with a thoroughly deserved victory, despite finding themselves 2-0 down after just 25mins from their opponent’s only shots on target in the entire fixture. Tareeq, at 19 years making an impressive and assured debut at Vamp Nou, was adjudged to have unfairly pulled down the pacey Weirside striker inside the box after 20 minutes of near-relentless Vamps pressure and possession, causing the young, card-toting (Tareeq, Wanda, Adam all picked up yellows), North American referee to award a penalty, wholly against the run of play. 1-0 Weirside.
Weirside grew more confident on the ball, shortly earning themselves their first corner of the day. With the ball placed down in a different postcode to the corner flag, the Vamps felt unlucky and slightly stunned that an uncontested Weirside header from just outside the 6-yard box saw them go 2-0 up. Step up skipper Joe Ephgrave, not at all used to losing at home, having gone full Mourinho (unbeaten at home) in his first season. Long may it continue. Vamps maintained confident, simple possession and continued to expose Weirside in wide areas. A neat through ball was tucked away by El Capitano just prior to half time. 2-1.
The introduction of Luke Fitz, for a limping Sam Connor, injected even more legs into the middle of the park, and the squad’s fitness proved way too much for Weirside in the second half. Wanda Ncube, having been reminded at half time that he might never get the opportunity to play at Vamp Nou again then proceeded to turn on the style. He opened his account with a rifled penalty into the roof of the net, having been won by the skipper having been brought down mid-pirouette. 2-2. Vowing not to be brought down in the box again shortly after, the skipper demonstrated coolness under pressure with a tidy finish to put the Vamps 3-2 up. Daylight.
An efficient second half performance at the back, and a continued high press across the middle, saw off what little threat remained and Weirside were done. 2 more Wanda-goals (pun intended) followed, including a fine shot into the inside netting from 15 yards out and a monster 40-yard finish having ran straight past the adventurous opposition goalkeeper who must’ve suffered a rush of blood to the head. 5-2. Dead-ball expert Ali Manoli also featured on the scoresheet and rounded things off with a free kick delivered into and entirely across the danger zone, nestling into the far bottom corner. A deserved goal for a tidy performance and was a constant threat when carrying the ball forward. 6-2.
A very impressive start to the new season with no one having a bad game and a good demonstration of this team’s ability to recover from adversity having seen them go unfairly behind. Roll on next week!
MOTM - Wanda (sorry Joe). 3 goals isn’t a bad way of saying goodbye. More goals for the Vamps than there are words. Denmark is lucky to have you.
Additional comments from manager Sam Connor:
Boys the character we showed today was unbelievable. It’s easy to say stay calm and believe we’ll come back, but completely different to do it. We keep the same attitude in every game and we’ll go far this year.
We know we can play great football, and we know now that we need to earn the right to play football against these teams - which means digging in and putting the work rate in for the full 90 minutes. That’s what’s going to keep winning us games.
Great games from everyone today. Enjoy your evenings and let’s keep this positivity going into next week! COYV!!