Having had two very tough matches over the previous two weeks - there was no rest for the CTYFC U15 Rebels this week as we battled it out with our old foes Esher Wizards in the Surrey County Cup Semi-Final.
With kick off approaching we made our final preparations knowing that we would need to bring another big performance if we had ambitions of progressing to the final.
The match began as predicted with both sides energetic and fully committed. Esher came out strongly and had the lions share of possession over the first 10 minutes but we were content to keep our shape with Isaac marshalling the defence superbly to ensure no inch was given. Freddie was having a good battle with the Esher right winger, keeping him at bay though with some clever positional adjustments ensuring Dom in goal was not overly troubled.
We began to enjoy some possession of our own and on the perfect surface moved the ball well and started to create some chances. Ben went agonisingly close to connecting with Oli's tantalising cross but was a stud length away from opening the scoring. Oli was then presented a gift following the keepers fumble from a raking Freddie cross - but having tapped into the empty net was harshly adjudged to have fouled the keeper.
The game was evenly poised as we neared half time but we continued to probe with Hayden and Josh E down the flanks both looking dangerous. Oli had another shot saved when well placed down the right channel and put another effort into the side netting.
With half time approaching we finally broke the deadlock. Having won possession in midfield Kris released Zahir down the left. His delivery was not cleared and Josh E kept the ball alive on the right side of the box - cutting inside onto his left foot and driving a shot into the far corner.
We looked for a fast start to the second half to keep the momentum we took into the break but the game remained tight. Dom made an excellent save as Esher looked for the equaliser - rushing out at the feet of the on-rushing attacker and claiming brilliantly.
Kris then went close - sending a left footed shot just wide. Fresh legs came with Lewis replacing Erim and JJ replacing Josh DK - both of whom had put in an excellent shift. Lewis then released Oli who stretched the defence down the right channel showing good pace but again was denied by the keeper at his near post.
It took until the 61st minute for us to double our lead - and it came with JJ and Lewis working together down the right to win possession. Lewis found Oli who held the ball well and released Ben down the inside right channel. Ben crossed first time to find Zahir's perfectly timed run and he finished first time into the far corner from 12 yards.
We were in the ascendency now and we nearly scored again with Zahir turning well in the box and his cross shot went agonisingly wide. Ben then went close but the keeper saved well. We continued to push on looking to consolidate our 2 goal cushion with more fresh legs - Luca replacing Hayden and Luke for Zahir.
Shortly after the changes we won a corner down the right which Josh E swung in. It was half cleared but Ben kept the ball alive and fed back to Josh out wide. Josh beat his man and delivered another cross - this time met by Ben with a deft header that looped over the keeper into the far corner to make it 3-0 with 12 minutes remaining.
As we know though our opponents never give in and a momentary lapse in concentration saw them pull a goal back in a flash to reduce the deficit. However, our response was immediate. From the restart Isaac found Lewis who showed a good bit if skill and delivered a raking diagonal to find Josh E on the right - his first time cross was perfect for Oli who guided home from 6 yards to make it 4-1 with just over 5 minutes to go.
We continued to rotate to see the game out and managed to grab a 5th in injury time. With Esher piling forward we pounced on the counter attack which saw Luke release Zahir down the left - his cross was parried by the keeper but Kris following up showed quick feet and composure to finish calmly.
Another fantastic match between these two sides which again showcased football at the top level of grass roots football. We wish Esher all the best for the remainder of the season and look forward to meeting them again in the future.
The Rebels again produced a clinical display and deservedly progress to the final of the Surrey County Cup for the 2nd year running.
MoM - So many good performances it was again difficult to choose. Lewis came on and had a really positive impact - driving the team forward. However this week with the crucial opening goal and 2 assists - Josh E was outstanding and gets the award. Also with the award this week - for another excellent display of solid defensive play at the heart of the team - goes to Isaac. He marshalled the defense superbly when under pressure and dominated throughout.
Wel done lads.