With the freezing temperatures ensuring the majority of grassroots fixtures were postponed we owe Leatherhead a big thank you for stepping in to host our 'home' fixture at their 3G facility. Despite the sub-zero temperature on the day the surface was in good condition and the game was on.
With numbers short due to illness and injury the match day squad knew what to expect from an always tough and resilient Leatherhead side - but early on it became apparent the Rebels were in the mood.
As early as the 2nd minute we should have been ahead. Good work down the right saw Josh E put Oli through but he dragged his shot wide. Oli made amends though in the 5th minute to fire us ahead. A throw down our left from JJ caused a bit of a scramble but Erim found the decisive touch to lay he ball into Oli's path and his half volley on the turn found the far corner from 20 yards - a great strike. Erim and Oli teamed up again in the 19th minute to double the lead. Another throw in down the left found Ben who laid off to Erim - he faked to shoot and slipped in Oli who let the ball come across him and fired a right foot shot into the corner from 15 yards.
The game settled down and Leatherhead started to come into the game but their attacks were handled by JJ, Isaac and Hayden. Zahir, Josh E and Kris were picking up the pieces from the defenders and launching our own attacks from deep with great effect, allowing Ben, Erim, Oli and Luke to link up really well in the final third. Oli, Josh E and Luke all forcing the keeper into good saves. Luca came on for his first appearance of the season to freshen things up alongside Josh DK to give the energetic Kris and Ben a rest. Dom commanded his box when called upon and was communicating well, claiming corners and punching clear with authority.
Just before the break Dom's goal kick found its way into midfield and up to Oli who turned and slipped a great ball through to find Erim's forward run who was now clean through - the keeper rushed out of his box to close him down but Erim calmly rounded him and ran the ball into the unguarded net.
Rotating the squad on such a cold day was important so Zahir took a well-earned rest having done an excellent job down the left in the first half. With Leatherhead now chasing the game, Josh DK, JJ and Isaac started the 2nd half well - defending resolutely with high levels of concentration. In the 49th minute Josh E was fouled in the box following a jinking run, and he stepped up to bury his spot kick into the corner to make it 4-0. This seemed to be the sucker punch and broke the Leatherhead resistance - with Oli completing his hat-trick on 52 minutes. Great defending down the right from Hayden and Josh DK forced Leatherhead all the way back to their keeper - Oli pressed with desire and got his reward - blocking the keepers attempted clearance to find the loose ball had fallen kindly for him to run onto and pass into the empty net.
It was soon 6-0 in the 56th minute - this time Kris fed Oli into space down the right and his first-time pinpoint cross found Ben to slot under the keeper. In between all this Isaac had hit the bar and saw the keeper make a wonder save from two good headers from Hayden deliveries. More subs were made to look after the squad and we arguably saved the best for last when we made it 7-0 in the 67th minute. A great team move that saw no less than 7 outfield players involved in the build-up, where we were patient - moved the ball right to left and back again - Luca found Oli down the inside right channel where his cross was met by Ben again - his first time shot hitting the bar but making no mistake from the rebound.
On a freezing day the Rebels were on fire and put in a scintillating and ruthless performance - it's no exaggeration to say the score could and should have been even wider. Big credit to Leatherhead too who never gave in and battled to the final whistle - and big thanks again for hosting the fixture.
MoM It's said most weeks that we could give the award to most of the lads and this week is no different - JJ was solid, Luke worked tirelessly as always - Ben back on the scoresheet with 2 goals - the list could go on for everyone - but we have to choose and we have three awards this week: Oli, Erim and Josh E
Oli with 3 goals and 3 assists was superb as was Erim with his goal and 2 assists: whilst Josh E was again hugely influential in the midfield. Well done lads and well done to the whole squad on a super team display.