Back in August, Moors Academy defeated FC Stratford at The Beehive, by the only goal of the game. This match, towards the close of the season, was a difficult game in all respects. A tricky pitch, tough opponents, one or two familiar faces missing, not to mention keeping promotion hopes alive, all these combined to make this anything but a straightforward encounter. So it proved.
The this young Moors side ran out the winners, shows just how far they have travelled in the first season in the MFL. Afterwards manager Sam Manoochehri said, “Shame about conceding a silly goal, but overall we deserved the three points.” Stratford pointed to appeals for a penalty that were turned down and a couple of missed chances. Yet at the end of the day it was the correct result for Moors Academy were the better side.
Like many sides in MFL Division Three, Stratford tried to knock the Moors out of their stride with some physical tactics. Like many side in MFL Division Three their failed. This young Moors Academy side – average age well under eighteen – is not only packed with young talent, but it is made of stern stuff. They are were well able to cope with the physicality their hosts threw at them.
Although the Moors were well on top for the first half an hour, the home side did come into the game towards the break. To show the difference between the two side, Moors had four shots on target in the first half to Stratford’s one. During this first forty-five minutes, Tyrese Shade continued his dominance from the last match against Northfield. He was everywhere. He rolled this player, he made that great pass, he was unlucky with a shot. Ably abeted by Okoro, Andrews and Mullally, the Moors front men were proving to be a real hand-full.
The Moors were set up with three at the back and Hirst and Clarke as wingbacks. It seemed to be working, but without goals.; The Moors sliced through Stratford’s mid-field like a knife through butter on a number of occasions. The home players were defending in depth, but they were defending and they did keep the Moors out.
Stratford put rather more effort into the start of the second half, yet the Moors remained on top, but a goal just would not come. As the game wore on, Nathan Hansard (my Man of the Match) had more and more influence. He surged forward on many occasions to set up attack after attack but with out that elusive goal.
With three quarters of the game gone, a Moors long throw found Okoro who passed to Shade. He made no mistake from twenty-five yards. With one goal under their belt, the Moors went in search of a second and ten minutes later it came. The tireless Hansard surged forward once again, and his persistence allowed Andrews to bag the second.
Well: that seemed to be that. But one must remember that the average of this Moors Academy side is well under eighteen. With five minutes to go, they allowed Stratford to score an easy goal. It was a straightforward long ball, such as they had played all afternoon, yet somehow it caught out the visiting defence, allowing Wilkes to tap home. This gave Stratford hope and they went in search of a point. The game became rather unpleasant, with some incidents that are better not reported.
Suffice it to say the Moors held out for all three points. During the first half there had been a couple in nasty incidents off the ball – unseen by the Officials. This side of the game re-surfaced in these final minutes. Corners had been a problem all afternoon, yet the flare up with three minutes to go caught the Officials by surprise. Some eighteen players were involved in the Moors penalty area at a corner. The result was yellow cards for Nitiri and Strafford’s Kendasyksi. The incident did not cover anyone on the pitch with glory. After seven minutes added time, it was all over and the Moors had all three points.
On Saturday they welcome high-flying Montpellier to The Beehive, KO 3pm.
Moors Academy: Nitir; Clarke; Hirst; Willock; Taylor (c); Hansard; Mullally; Bennett; Okoro (McNally); Shade (Medford); Andrews. Sub not used Forrest.