In what seems like the blink of an eye - we have already reached 2023 and we opened the new year by welcoming Sutton Utd Colts to Tomlinscote for a Surrey Youth League – Premier Elite fixture.
The first 15 minutes were competitive and having not played for 4 weeks it took a little while for us to find our rhythm, but we were starting to dominate possession and territory against a dogged Sutton defence.
In the 20th minute Sutton were reduced to ten men when one of their players was shown a straight red card for violent conduct. A few minutes later and a bad tackle led to a booking for Sutton as we immediately started taking advantage of the extra man.
Our pressure finally told and we broke the deadlock in the 26th minute. Some excellent play from Erim saw him dance his way along the byline and cut back for Oli who’s excellent first time left foot shot found the net via the angle of post and cross bar. Three minutes later and the lead was doubled – a throw-in down the left found Ben who controlled and played inside to Erim. With acres of space in front of him Erim took a good touch and unleashed an absolute rocket from 30 yards that swerved away into the far top corner – an absolute stunner.
Another freekick in the 32nd minute saw Freddie deliver a searching ball into the box which wasn‘t dealt with by the Sutton defence – the ball falling kindly to Zahir who kept his composure to swivel and slot into the net from close range to make it 3-0.
Sutton were still venturing forward but Isaac, Freddie and JJ were solid at the back against the physical attackers - protecting Dom from having to make any meaningful saves. Kris and Erim were dominating the middle of the park - feeding James and Josh E to probe out wide as we tried to switch the play and stretch the ten men.
On the stroke of half time we effectively secured the points when Ben's backward flick header from Freddie's pin point delivery found the bottom corner and in off the post.
Into the 2nd half and not wanting to get complacent - we looked to maintain our intensity, positivity and remain on the front foot. On 48 minutes some good play down the right saw Josh E fouled in the box and Freddie stepped up to smash home from the spot to make it 5-0. This was Fred's last involvement having picked up a knock in the first half - and he was replaced by Josh DK. We were pouring forward now and this time Ben was scathed down in the box for another penalty. He picked himself up to cooly slot home the spot kick for 6-0.
More fresh legs saw Joe B make just his second appearance of the season to give the excellent Kris a well earned rest, whilst Zahir and James gave way to see Luca and Lewis slot into the midfield.
The replacements all settled in seamlessly and we continued to ask questions. On 63 minutes a lighting break down the right saw Erim release Oli from half way and he drove on and powered into the box before unleashing a fierce drive across the keeper into the far corner to make it 7-0.
The referee was being tested and another 2 bookings came in quick succession for Sutton following more reckless tackles on Joe B and Lewis in the 64th and 70th minute.
JJ had been solid all day and had put in another excellent defensive display to earn a rest with 5 minutes to go seeing Kris re-enter the fray.
The final cherry on the cake arrived on 76 minutes - when Ben was released by Kris and was through on goal. His first shot was saved well by the keeper and the rebound fell to Ben again but his shot was blocked on the line. This time the ball fell to Oli 8 yards out and he calmly finished on the half volley.
A very pleasing, disciplined performance from the whole squad in challenging weather conditions and against very physical opposition. We kept our focus when it mattered and scored some excellent goals.
Despite the goals, it's sometimes easy to forget that it's the whole squad that contributes, and again today Dom was not tested but did his job when needed without fuss - in fact the whole defensive unit were superb, providing the platform to launch forward.
MoM: Hard decision this week as again so many good performances were given - but as mentioned above the defensive work often gets overlooked when scoring a lot of goals. However, for an excellent display of solid defending JJ gets the award this week.
Also getting the award is Erim - for his wonder goal, 2 assists and general all round display in midfield. Well done boys.