MGBSFL DIVISION ONE
NORTH WEST NEASDEN 1 SHIRLEY PARK 1
Jamie Kent salvaged an equaliser as promotion hopefuls Shirley Park came from a goal down to earn a point against a confident Neasden at Hadley FC.
Shirley were dealt a blow ahead of the game when goalkeeper Steven Murad suffered a broken finger, and with the team unable to sign a replacement at short notice, it was left to boss Andrew Goldman to fill in between the sticks.
NWN started slowly but once they had a foothold in the game they started to played well. All the clear-cut chances fell their way and they were extremely disappointed not to have killed the game off. Dan Orgel's strike was all NWN had to show for their efforts.
Shirley boss Dave Lusman told JC Sport: "Our preparations for the match went pear-shaped - our 14-man squad was whittled down to 11 on the day due to illness and other committments, so our original game-plan went out of the window.
"Tactically we decided to set up more defensively minded which was new territory for us. With the players we had available our team dug deep and put in a real stern performance against a really sharp and well organised Neasden team.
"This was a game ether team could of won. Between us we hit the frame on the goal on five occasions - Park through Saul Conway (twice) and Jamie Kent in the dying minutes of the game.
"There was plenty of drama at both ends of the field. Both teams were on the back-foot throughout various stages of the game, so all in all a draw was a fair result.
"We're happy with are start to season and our opening league games have gone as expected, against a resilient Hendon team and really strong Neasden team who have come on leaps and bounds.
"The key to Park's success this season, as always, boils down to player availability on the day. We're yet to field are strongest team since pre-season, and we're looking forward to having are full squad available for selection.
"Here at Park we've maintained our high standards of football and have added quality year on year for our push for promotion. There's a good vibe in the squad, everyone's taking responsibility on the pitch and with Saul joining me as player-manager, we've added a new dimension to the team. this season its all about how the other teams in the division will cope against us."
"As manager, I am very pleased as to how we have started the season, as I have a bunch of good lads to work with. Not every manager in this league has a pool of lads, with quality, at their disposal like I do. Once we get used to a system and players will grow in confidence.
"I am sure that our players will exude in a playing style fit for promotion. The boys were down after the game as we really should have come away with the three points, but it's on to the next one and a big game against Woodford Wanderers next week."
NWN's Josh Tiano added: "The back four play as a solid unit, and even without a recognised goalkeeper, we kept the normally free-scoring Shirley Park to few clear-cut chances. We had numerous chances to kill the game off ourselves and failed to do so for the second week in a row, this week unlike last we were punished.
"I think everyone who watched the game of football, would agree we deserved to win the game over the 90 minutes. We need to learn to start the game a little quicker and kill teams off when given the opportunity to do so. All the early signs are encouraging though; we're a new team, unbeaten in our opening two games, creating chances and not giving away too many.
"This is only the beginning for this side; with the ability we possesses, everyone surrounded with the club is gearing up for a big season. Each game will be competitive, but we believe that we have the quality within our squad to challenge for the title."