We set out looking for a good start to the season and to set down a marker, and that’s exactly what we did last Saturday at Kowloon Tsai.
Having strengthened in the summer with a raft of new additions and a couple of comebacks, we looked strong on paper going into the game against Shooters with a starting 11 of Taylor in goal, a back 3 of Pabs, Marc and Colin, Nathan and Rudi in the deep midfield pairing, Cowley and Ali on the wings, Dashti and Coombes in attacking mid and Forlan up top, with Paddy, Chris Mac, Hash, Crossy, Motumbo and Rob D on the bench.
The oppo were clearly well up for this one, the whole squad arriving an hour before kick off to warm up, and they came flying out of the blocks in the opening 10 mins, putting a lot of early pressure on us and making it difficult for us to find our passing rhythm. Having weathered the early storm however, we started to find a bit of fluency and opened the scoring when Nathan rose highest at a corner to nod the ball towards Forlan, who volleyed in convincingly at the back post. 1-0.
That goal seemed to calm us down, and we started looking dangerous every time we got in possession, with some nice passing and movement throughout the team. We had a couple more half-chances before the move of the match and surely one of the goals of the season arrived in style: Paddy started things off from left centre back, striding forward and playing the ball to Coombes in the centre circle. A first-time flick from Coombes found Motumbo aka Rainy bursting down the left wing and his headed pass found Dashti lurking 25 yards from goal. Tasked with scoring 15 goals this season by management before the game, the Chester Zidane clearly took it to heart, chesting the ball down and letting it bounce before unleashing an unstoppable looping volley that hit the bar and post before bulging the net. Awesome stuff. 2-0.
Our tails were up now and we started passing the ball with growing confidence from back to front. The momentum was ours and it seemed only a matter of time before we got the third, which duly arrived when Forlan capitalised on a defensive error to knick the ball and slot home. 3-0.
Credit to Shooters, a lot of teams would have let the heads go down at this point, but they kept plugging away to find a way back into the game, and they ultimately enjoyed the best of the last 10 minutes of the half as we lost our rhythm amid a succession of substitutions and tiring legs. Rob D cleared one of the line and a couple of other chances went begging, but we survived to half time with our clean sheet intact. Half time: 3-0.
Resetting to the original starting 11, we came out a bit more composed in the second half and created a glut of chances, denied by a combination of the oppo keeper, the flag-happy linesman and some wayward finishing. When the fourth goal came though, it was another clinical passing move from back to front, Pabs playing the ball out from the back through to Ali in midfield, who laid on a perfectly timed through ball for Dashti to run onto and finish low into the bottom corner. 4-0.
With the game won, we took our foot off the gas a bit in the final quarter, but 4 goals and a clean sheet nonetheless represents a good day at the office.
Final score: 4-0.
Scorers: Forlan (2), Dashti (2)
Overall, a very encouraging start, with really good performances all over the pitch and every member of the squad playing their part. Great to see Rainy and Nathan back in Soho colours, and they looked like they’d never been away, while summer signings Marc, Ali and Crossy all slotted seamlessly into the team. The new 3-4-2-1 system is also working a treat so far, giving us a lot of flexibility all over the pitch, maximising the involvement of the whole team and providing us with the platform to play our attacking passing game.
I’d like to see us continue to improve our passing quality and dominate possession more, and of course score a few more goals when we get on top, and I’m positive these things will come the more we play together.
Let’s keep things moving forward with another strong performance, and another 3 points, tomorrow.
Pabs, Dan & Chopps