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Smithswood Firs 0 Moors Academy 2
*Moors Academy march on - by Ron Crane*
PUBLISHED: 20th Apr 18

Four games in six days is too many for any team, and for the first 35 minutes this was a turgid affair. It looked as if neither side wanted to be playing. The temperature was 28 in the shade, and even at the final whistle had only gone down to 22.

Players were not closing down, running was rare, a trot the most anyone could manage. It looked like a nil all draw where no one was interested.

About the 35 minute mark, something happened. I do not know what it was, but there was a definite change. Moors Academy just turned it on. Pace, closing down, harassing their more experienced opponents, suddenly it was a different game. Shots rained in on Jake Woodward in the home goal – four in one terrifying minute, two blocked two saved. Moors took the ball away from goal and played round the pitch before striking again. The attack was dangerous and the penalty obvious. Referee Josh Sudbury was right on hand to award the spot kick. Ashanti Pryce grabbed his chance and the ball with both hands, and dispatched the penalty home.

Just prior to this Smithswood had a real chance. A cross from their right, into the six yard box. From four yards out the shot was as fierce as it was accurate. Ben Maxwell, making his debut in goal, pulled off a wonderful save, sending the ball towards the corner flag in the process. We did not know it at the time, but it was to be the real turning point of the game. As they say, “The young man did well!”

There was dissention in the home ranks at half time, and a serious conference with the management on the field.

When play resumed, Smithswood tried to raise their game. It was hard. One felt for players who were clearly fatigued. Yet this young Moors side was in no mood to be sympathetic. They went in search of a second goal. It almost came right from the kick-off. Ashanti closed down the ‘keeper who managed to claim the ball at the final moment. It was a close thing.

A cross from the right this time, was met by Rivel Mardenborough, Goalkeeper and defender. The ball was sent goal-wards, but cleared right on the line. Another close shave. This incident resulted in ‘keeper and Rivel needing treatment. Both were able to continue.

Ashanti was having a field-day. He burst from midfield right into the area, but in the end was crowed out.

Just when the home side were beginning to make inroads in the game Ashanti struck again. Manager Sam Manoochehri had brought on Adam Bourne. His injection of pace and energy was just what Smithswood did not want to see. It was his persistence that brought the ball eventually, and via Mikkel Hirst, to Ashanti who took his second goal with aplomb.

To all indents and purposes, the game was over. Moors replaced McNally, Pryce and Mardenborough, no doubt with Saturdays encounter at Earlswood Town in mind. They all went off to a standing ovation – richly deserved.

So far I have not mentioned the Man of the Match - Arman Khoshkhoo. With number four on his back and playing in a four man midfield in Moors 3-4-1-2 formation. He quite literally ran the game. The young man gave a virtuoso performance. Some of his runs, passes, and evasion of the tackle, brought “oos” and “aarrs” from the appreciative and substantial, crowd.

Make no mistake this was a wonderful result for Moors, but it must also be said that Smithswood Firs were visibly tired from the start. They could not cope with the fitness and pace – not to mention the skill and tactical awareness of their visitors. Four matches in six days had taken its toll. But to the Moors the spoils and the three points, which take Moors Academy up to ninth in the Division Two table.

Next Match: On Saturday 21st April 2018: against Earlswood Town in a 3pm KO at The Pavilions, Malthouse Lane, Earlswood, Solihull, B94 5DX

Moors: Maxwell, Clarke, Sephton, Khooshkhoo, McNally (Hough), Lupano, Mahmood, Martin, Pryce (45+2 pen & 76)(Barkers), Mardenborough (Bourne), Hirst. Sub not used, Hamer.

Officials: Paul Sudbury, Josh Sudbury & Reece Crowther.

Next Match at Tally Ho! Tuesday 24th April MAFC v Fairfield Villa KO 7:45pm KO 7:45pm. Adults £4, Under 16 £1.


 
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