PRINCES PARK 0 V 2 KENSINGTON DRAGONS U13s
The League fixture list threw up a trip out to picturesque Hendon versus Princes Park this Sunday. The home team had recruited some new players since our fractious meetings last season and a few of them were on the very large size indeed. (Maybe they’ve been putting something in the nearby reservoir.)
Princes Park attempted to leverage their superior physicality from the outset and tried to turn the game into a battle. The opening exchanges weren’t for the faint-hearted but our boys weren’t about to be bullied off the ball and they stuck to their own brand of football.
Rudi, starting the game in the number 9 position, had a chance that he scooped over the bar but the early signs were promising and at least he had the ambition to attempt a shot. There was some really good goalkeeping by Jordan who is developing into an extremely valuable member of the team as the first 20 minutes proved to be very evenly contested. The Dragons however, were being caught offside on far too many occasions and the coach decided it was time to make a change. Personnel were shuffled and rejigged and the changes almost immediately bore fruit. The best passing move of the match, involving Jake and Felix down the right-hand side resulted in a well-deserved goal for Waleed, who calmly tucked the ball into the net. Meaning we went into the break ahead by the slimmest of margins.
The home team came out fired up for the second period and the Dragons were under the kosh as Princes Park pressed for the equalizer. The visitors had to withstand a sustained period of pressure, facing 3 corners in quick succession before finally clearing the ball down the left flank. Chester and Halvdan had been introduced to shore up the midfield at the interval and they were adding a little more steel in midfield, protecting the back four and creating a platform on which to defend our slender lead. The Dragons continued to soak up the pressure and hit the home team on the break resulting in Waleed netting his second of the match.
The home team’s tactics of trying to turn the game into a battle hadn’t worked and the Dragons had knocked the fight out of them. They didn’t have a plan B and their body language betrayed the fact that they had no answer and were ready to accept defeat. Joseph did well on his debut, holding the ball up well, always being a willing runner and an alternative outlet in the later stages of the match. But the man of the match was Karim. He was immense at the back, possibly his best performance in a Dragons shirt. He was everywhere, strong in the challenge, commanding in the air and throwing his body on the line on more than one occasion. There was just time for a marauding run from Kass down the right flank then cutting inside to set up a shooting opportunity for Joe which struck the crossbar before the whistle brought the game to an end.
Today’s performance didn’t scale the fluid, free-flowing heights that we had witnessed in the final 10 minutes of last week’s game but there was some great spirit and quality on show. And it also delivered the first clean sheet the under 13s have ever recorded. An early birthday present for coach, Dean.