ULFC travelled to Waltham Abbey on Saturday for their top of the table clash Vs CAR in a game that was sure to be a close fought thing, ULFC lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as requested by their manager Dave North who was away this week so the on the day duties fell to John Blasdale.
CAR kicked off and were put under pressure from the impressive working Ryan eagerly supported by Ali in the middle, the opening exchanges were very tight, ULFC looked comfortable on the ball and playing out from the back, captain Abdu marshalling his troops to play with flair and determination that has taken them to the summit of the table, on 8 minutes Richard played a sublime ball from left back along the lone to Corley, with a slip from the defender Corley was through on goal, he angled his run inside the box and calmly slotted into the bottom left corner for give the visitors an early 1-0 lead.
This seemed to spur on ULFC and they controlled the pace of the game with their quick passing and movement, varying their style from short and sharp to sometimes the long ball out to the wings, Joel playing right wing seemed to be the main outlet with his PLUS 90 pace troubling the CAR defenders.
It was from a ball to Joel where the next ULFC chance came, he floated in a superb ball from the wing to the unmarked Corley who found himself on the penalty spot, the confident striker decided to take on the volley, on this occasion he was unsuccessful and a call from his teammates for time would have been a better option but this chance passed without a deserved ULFC goal.
The movement of Sam and Corley together with the hard working wingers Joabe and Joel was causing the CAR defenders problems for which they didn’t seem to have an answer too.
CAR grew into the game after the early set back of conceding and controlled proceedings for a good spell on 20 minutes, they launched in a long throw which was more like a corder this was slicked at pace just over the ULFC cross bar and sent out a warning to the defenders and keeper alike.
The 1st half came to a close without many more chances of note and with ULFC deserving their 1-0 lead.
No changes at half time and ULFC started the 2nd half as they did the 1st – pressing well and working hard for eachother, despite all their hard work CAR were determined to get back on level terms and they poured forward in an attempt to get the equaliser, this was putting immense pressure on the back 4 who all to a man passed the test, Dan, Abdi, Rob and Richard was all superb as was keeper Charlie who defended their goal as champions elect should, with their lives, despite this pressure ULFC were still a danger on the counter attack, the movement between Corley and Sam impressed from the kick off and it continued through the game.
On 65 minutes the hard working Joel gave way for Shai in a straight like for like swap, Shai got stuck in straight away and made some impressive tackles and was working hard defending back to support Dan.
CAR continued to push forward and as in the 1st half it seemed their best way back into the game was from a long throw but as in the 1st half the ULFC defenders were more than equal to the task and with Rob at centre back in a commanding and man of the match performance ULFC seemed to have weathered the storm, Joel came back onto the pitch for Joabe and Ali picked up a knock and was replaced with the again impressive Mohad in centre midfield.
Joel could have put the game to bed on 85 minutes when he broke down the left wing and hit a shot that cannoned off the post and to safety for CAR, they broke and again put pressure on the ULFC defence but again they were more than upto the task.
The last chance of the game fell to Corley on the counter and with a little more composure could have made the score 2-0, but it wasn't meant to be and he blazed over the bar, shortly after the referee brought the game to a close and ULFC after some determined defending deserved their well fought 1-0 victory.
Special mentions must go to man of the match Rob, but this was a complete team effort, Charlie was untroubled but confident, the back 4 were solid, the midfield was creative and hard working and the strikers movement and understanding caused their opponents problems all game.
Good luck for the rest of the season to CAR, and I would expect to see both ULFC and CAR fighting for the title at the end of the season.
John Blasdale, Coach