Conquest kicked off their Combined Counties U18 North league with a home fixture vs Manorcroft. Having played a fixture already you could be forgiven for thinking that Manorcroft might have the sharper start but Conquest were in no mood to relinquish their strangle hold on U18s football in the Southern part of England; with a fearsome reputation and a treble from last year they had huge boots to fill and made a good first attempt of filling them!
Conquest lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation as they have in previous years but there were new faces amongst the group, notably a second-year U18 centre back; Fabian Ferguson-Davies. In addition to this there were 3 U16 boys named in the squad as the tradition of blooding youngsters early at this club was continued.
Team-Sheet: Nabbad, Clarke, Davies, Evans (C), Rajab, Krishna, Palfrey, Bremang, Kalinauskas, Laing, Awuah ||
Bench: Nation, Jama, Ogbonna, Tivey ||
Conquest began the game in a confident mood and took control of proceedings early by dominating the ball, having said that the first 20 minutes passed without any major events. Whilst the ball was all at Conquest's feet, Manorcroft were an organised defensive unit that had clearly been coached well and were difficult to break down.
In the 24th minute Alkhidrhi Rajab made an outstanding run demonstrating his pace and power to beat three players from left back before squaring confidently to Ben Awuah who took a touch and slotted past the keeper to break the deadlock and give Conquest a 1-0 lead. The goal sparked Manorcroft into life as they managed to steal back some possession and get a couple of shots away without ever really troubling Sami Nabbad in the Conquest goal.
The intensity petered out in the middle of the half as Conquest continued to dominate the ball without really penetrating their opposition. The last five minutes of the half sparked the crowd into life as Bremang fashioned an opening and squared to Kalinauskas who thundered the ball off the bar. A minute later Conquest had a great passage of play that ended with the ball in the box but they were unable to get it over the line.
HT: Conquest 1-0 Manorcroft
The half-time team talk must've done it's job as Conquest came out with the bit between their teeth and a side with a much more ruthless cutting edge. in the 48th minute Josh Krishna found David Bremang out wide and he powered past his man before squaring to Ben Awuah who drilled the ball into the bottom right corner. (2-0)
One minute later Kalinauskas had a shot saved from 22 yards out that resulted in a corner and a moment of brilliant play from Samurai Evans ensued. David Bremang whipped the corner into the front past and Samurai Evans made a darting run from the back of the box towards the front post, sticking a leg out and giving the keeper no chance as he fired home at the near post from 6 yards out. (3-0)
The next few minutes brought more goals and an opportunity for the subs to impress, the 51st minute saw Kalinauskas pick out Awuah in the box who made no mistake in driving the ball into the bottom right corner (4-0). The 53rd minute saw Awuah beat his man after being picked out beautifully by Kalinauskas, he then squared to Krishna who sent the keeper the wrong way as he slotted home (5-0).
In the 55th minute Conquest made a number of subs as the following players joined the field:
OFF: Awuah, Laing, Palfrey, Clarke
ON: Ogbonna, Jama, Tivey, Nation
The substitutes were in the mood to impress as shortly after coming on Bremang found Obinna Ogbonna who rounded the keeper and finished in the open net to bring the score to 6-0. This didn't deter Manorcroft as they seemed to step back into the game and despite nothing coming of it did manage to carve out a couple of chances.
The cream was added to the scoreline in the 87th minute as David Bremang added the pick of the goals, Ryan Nation found him down the line and as the defender stood off of him he bent the ball into the far side of the goal from 20+ yards and a very, very acute angle. A goal that would be respected at any level and a deserving scorer given he had troubled the opposition all night.
FT: Conquest 7-0 Manorcroft.
Manager's MotM: Alkhidrhi Rajab
Captain's MotM: David Bremang
Alkhidrhi Rajab Assisted Ben Awuah
David Bremang Assisted Ben Awuah
David Bremang Assisted Samurai Evans
Tomas Kalinauskas Assisted Ben Awuah
Ben Awuah Assisted Josh Krishna
David Bremang Assisted Obinna Ogbonna
Ryan Nation Assisted David Bremang
A special mention should go to Fabian Ferguson-Davies who on his debut could have hidden behind a big scoreline in an evening that he was rarely troubled but he managed to demonstrate a lot of good attributes with his composure on the ball an excellent building block for many a move.
The performance was probably below what can be expected of this group but a great result for the first game and an impressive team effort and demonstration of the apparent ability that is coursing through the side. The next game for this group will be away vs Balham on the 26/09/2017, details will be on the website home page as and when they are received.