JC MSFL Div 2 Holy Mount Zion 0 NW Neasden C 1
Back at the spiritual home of HMZ and under the shadow of the Wembley arch on a blistering day for football, both these teams slogged out 90 minutes of a hard fought game played in a very good spirit.
These teams both took three points off one another last season so this one was always going to be difficult to call. Especially with Neasden missing five key players including hot shot striker Stevie Bloom.
The long grass and searing sun were not conducive to the fastest and most free flowing of games but in the first half both teams were able to play some nice football and both demonstrated their ability to knock it about and carve out opportunities. It really was a case though of defences on top as neither team going into the break could claim to have missed out on a golden chance.
The feeling going in was that HMZ had been slightly on top and had the better of the play but without ever getting on top of Neasden.
The second half had a different feel about it as Neasden stepped up and had a better shape about them. They started forcing HMZ back and the flowing, passing football that the reds had played in the first half became more and more stunted and the ball began going long and becoming easier for the Neasden defence to deal with.
The HMZ keeper had his fingers stung with a few efforts, most notably from a towering header from Neasden captain Joel Hilton who rose highest at a corner and his effort seemed to be going in before the keeper managed to pluck it out of the air.
The game changed when Neasden bought on some fresh legs up front and the added pace and extra running gave the Zionist's defence just one problem too many to deal with and it was no surprise when Stoltmzan knocked the ball down the line for the fresh Collet to run onto, he skinned his man, picked out Simons and the boy wonder finished with a drilled, well placed effort, low and hard across the keeper and into the bottom corner.
Neasden had a slender lead to defend and never looked like giving it up until the last minute when a speculative cross from Danny Potter out wide beat the otherwise faultless Grabiner in goal and should have been finished at the far post. It would have been harsh on Neasden who on the day probably did enough to edge the match and now go into a two week break with six points from two games and a fantastic base upon which to build their season.
In the break Neasden should be concentrating on getting much much fitter as to a man, they wilted towards the end in the long grass and under the sun. More hard running is needed from all.
Special mention to Mike Hershman who showed incredible commitment by getting himself on a train back from Belgium to play this weekend and then played the last 20 minutes with cramp restricting his movement.