On Sunday the CTYFC U15 Rebels were in action again - this time in the Surrey County Cup - as we welcomed Sutton United Amber for a 3rd Round tie.
We were again required to call upon the full depth of our squad as more injuries and absentees meant that come the morning of the game we had just 13 fully fit players - with another carrying an ankle injury. As always we were expecting a tough battle ahead and with the pre-match plans and team talk done the squad were ready.
We nearly got off to the perfect start when inside 2 minutes Oli released Zahir through the middle - he looked to be 1on1 with the keeper and get his shot away but the defender made a good recovery and made a last ditch block. It was not long after though that we did take the lead. In the 4th minute a throw in on the left was worked by Zahir and Lewis who found a cross which was cleared. Kris did brilliantly to win the ball back in mid-field and drove forward to release a fierce drive from 22 yards which arrowed into the bottom corner.
Oli was finding acres of space and influencing play - linking with the midfield to build our attacks. With the defence dropping off him Oli went on driving run and brushed off 2 defenders, but his left foot shot was dragged just wide. We kept probing and Oli nearly released Luke this time who had made a good forward run but again the defender just did enough. A big switch this time from Oli found Josh E on the right who beat his man but his cross drifted behind.
At the other end Sutton were pushing for the equaliser - and Josh DK, Isaac and Freddie were defending well against physical opposition. However, Sutton came close but Dom kept out a looping header with help from the cross bar and another chance was blasted over the bar with their forward well placed.
Kris and Erim were again not giving an inch and their constant work rate was starting to win the midfield battle. Oli saw a shot well saved but it wouldn't have counted as the flag rightly went up for offside. Lewis was working hard down the left also and came close with a free kick but the keeper saved.
Tadi was a half time replacement for Ben who'd come on for Luke after half an hour - but having given it 10 minutes ankle wasn't holding up.
Lewis was an increasing influence down the left and was looking a threat. It was down the left that saw Lewis, Tadi and Oli link up to win a corner in the 54th minute. Lewis sent in a fantastic delivery that was met by Isaac with a thumping header to make it 2-0.
The tactical tweeks we talked about at half time were working well and the defence were looking increasingly comfortable. Josh DK was having a right battle and put in some great challenges - as was Freddie down the left. On the one occasion Dom was called upon he produced a stunning full length diving stop to his left to tip the goal bound effort round the post.
Shortly after Lewis came close again with a left foot shot which forced the keeper into a good save. After 60 mins Joe B came on to give Lewis a rest and keep the pressure on down the left where we were finding some joy and slotted in seamlessly.
Just as Joe arrived on the pitch a good ball from Erim over the top saw Zahir show good pace to reach it front of the defender and produce an excellent finish with the outside of his right foot over the keeper to make it 3-0. This gave us the comfortable cushion we wanted and allowed further rotation. With the final whistle near - one last attack saw Luke chase a ball from Oli and worked with Josh E down the right. The ball found it's way it to the centre of the box and Oli's powerful snapshot was stopped by a worldie save from the keeper.
Another committed display from the boys to produce an excellent performance against a tough Sutton side and we're into the hat for the next round.
MoM - A great all round team performance meant this was a tough choice this week - with 3 awards this week. Lewis for his determination down the left caused increasing pressure and his delivery for the 2nd goal was sublime. Kris for his excellent goal and his energy in midfield was infectious as he kept the boys ticking and energised. And Oli - his all round game was excellent and he led the line with authority and linked play superbly.
Well done boys.