As with previous external matches, we played away from home on the 25th of February 2016. This was our first opportunity to host our guests, Pro Academy at the Hive, our training ground. It was a cold, grey, rainy and blustery afternoon as the scene was set against the backdrop of the Barnet Stadium where Barnet hosted Cambridge in the Sky Bet League Two.
We managed to raise a squad of 9 players in a very short amount of time for this fixture. The squad players were as follows:
Ridha Hussein Kanji
While the players were waiting for the kick-off against Pro Academy, all ready and kitted out in their Stanmore kits, we started off with a light warm-up routine and included some stretching exercises as well as light passing and shooting practice on the Astro-Turf field.
The format of this friendly game was structured as four 10-15-minute matches (6-a-side). The formation was setup with Ali Nurmohamed in goal, Mikhail Rashid, Abbas Rajvani and Ridha Hussein Kanji in defence, with Zayn Khatau, Jabir Merali and Zain Dharas upfront.
The first game was refereed by Jamil Merali. From the word go both teams were well-structured and pressed each other, with some intricate passing between the players. However, Pro Academy were disciplined and their defence was resolute, not allowing any penetration past their defence. There were some subs made by the SJ team to bring on Husayn Mawjee and Hassan Valji for Zayn Khatau and Zain Dharas. The first game ended with the score tied at 0-0.
After a quick team talk by the coaches encouraging the boys to be aware of their positioning on the field of play, the second half got underway. Baba (Pro Academy) had a few slick moves around the corner flags and whipped a cross in which was dealt with comfortably by Stanmore. The passing and channelling of the ball was a major improvement from Stanmore in the second game. There was some intricate passing by both teams and Pro Academy played the ball out very well from the keeper down the left channel. With an excellent cross into the box and with a combined effort by Abbas Rajvani, Mikhail and Ridha Hussein, the ball was cleared out to Jabir Merali who ran upfield but the defence was resolute once again and we were pegged back into their half. The second half ended where the first had started at 0-0.
Refuelled, again the boys took charge of the third game and Stanmore had a few more chances with the ball threaded through to the front, and with some superb goal-line clearances, which left the Stanmore team knocking at the Pro Academy door. The opposition did not stop there; they stepped it up a gear with more crosses into dangerous areas. This time a clearance between Ridha Husein and Jabir Merali saw the ball land at Hassan Valjis feet. The counter-pressure was on with Ridha Husein standing his ground in mid-field.
The parents cheered on all the players throughout the game and just at the close of the third game, Pro Academy took a punt on goal, and with the ball rolling towards the keeper, it trickled in and Pro Academy were in the lead. The whistle blew bringing the third quarter to a close. Score: Stanmore 0 – Pro Academy 1.
The last game was more competitive with Pro Academy threatening the Stanmore goal and Stanmore pushing up ahead with some great tackles by Zayn Khatau, Abbas Rajvani and Ali Nurmohamed. With sight of the goal, the ball was let loose. It rebounded off the post and Pro Academy were on the counter-attack. With a smart pass once again, they took another shot on goal and the ball whistled passed the keeper to nestle into the top left corner, taking Pro Academy 2-0 up.
Our boys were unfazed by the result, and they all played with grit and determination throughout the games.
Final score after the 4 games was Stanmore 0 – Pro Academy 2.
The experience for our boys in these friendly games is invaluable. There is a lot that the boys, parents and managers/coaches learnt:
- We have a very talented tier
- We have parents that have great commitment
- We can raise teams for fixtures
- We impressed the other teams’ coaches and had many compliments on our players.
- We can compete against any opposition
- Great play from the whole team – we look forward to more teamwork form all players
A huge thanks goes to the coordinators and the admin team to facilitate this. Thanks also goes to the parents for taking the time out and supporting the children come rain or shine – mostly rain.
Going forward, we will, Inshallah, have many more opportunities for the rest of the Tier 1 players We will keep you posted on future opportunities as they arise.
Abbas Khatau (Tier 1 Manager) & Jamil Merali (Tier 1 Coach)