Bloom, Bloom, Bloom
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JC MSFL Div 3
NW Neasden C 4 Faithfold C 1
Neasden followed up their impressive ‘double-header’ win over Red Sea last week with a comprehensive victory against Faithfold to keep their bid for a third consecutive promotion firmly on track with Stephen Bloom scoring his fourth hat-trick of the season.
Played in the beautiful Spring sunshine at Hadley Football Club, it was the visitors who started the brightest as Neasden failed to retain possession on a wide pitch. Whilst Faithfold didn’t really create any clear chances in this period, it was their better use of possession that led to them taking the lead on the quarter hour mark when the Neasden defence failed to deal with a long ball from David Garson and Ben Lewis gleefully drove the ball into the far corner of Simon Beresford’s goal and in doing so inflicted the first goal that Neasden and Beresford had conceded in over 250 minutes of football. Not exactly up there with Manchester United and Edwin Van der Sar but impressive nonetheless.
This seemed to kick Neasden into life as they seemed to realise that anything less than three points today would undo all their good work from last week, especially with Red Sea winning their game today. Gary Dymant, utterly dominant in the middle of the park with Paul Andrews all day, lofted a beautifully weighted ball over the Faithfold defence into the path of Bloom but his first-time lob from 20 yards dropped agonizingly just over the crossbar.
It was not long until Neasden came again and this time they did make the most of their opportunity. Captain Joel Hilton played an exquisite ball down the right flank for Jamie Kaye who cut inside two defenders before lashing the ball into the net to restore parity. And five minutes later, Neasden had the completed the turnaround as a Ricky Stolzman throw-in found its way to Bloom, via Gary Dymant, and Bloom cleverly turned two defenders before slotting into the corner of the net for his 18th goal of the season.
Neasden now had a firm grip on the game and were unlucky to be denied two pretty certain looking penalties before the break. First referee Tony McEvoy waved play on as Benji Dymant’s cross struck a Faithfold arm before the same Dymant outclassed the Faithfold defence with a sublime piece of skill and was then cynically pulled back just inside the box. The referee did well to see the infringement but seemed to bottle the more important decision of awarding a penalty, instead awarding Neasden a free-kick on the edge of the box.
There was still time for Bloom to see a goal-bound effort blocked in the six-yard box before the half ended with Neasden holding a slender one goal advantage.
The first goal of the second half would be vital and Neasden seemed as if they had claimed it only for it to be disallowed for an extremely contentious offside decision. David Marcus ended a fine move down the left with a fantastic cross from the goal line that Bloom volleyed in from a matter of yards. Two reasons seemed to spring to mind as to why the goal simply had to be given: firstly, Marcus crossed the ball sideways (or even backwards) and, secondly, Bloom started his run in front of the Faithfold defence when the ball was played. Faithfold seemed as shocked as Neasden that the goal was disallowed but McEvoy wasn’t about to change his mind and Neasden remained a solitary goal ahead.
Although this sense of injustice may have thrown Neasden out of their stride for a time, they quickly reassumed control of a game that was becoming more and more stretched in pretty warm conditions.
Benji Dymant twice went close, once with a lob that went narrowly over the bar and then with a shot that was just as close following a wonderful piece of skill reminiscent of Paul Gascoigne’s first touch of his wonder goal against Germany at Euro 96.
In defence Neasden remained in total control with Beresford not having a save to make. Sam Fisher, who had a brilliant game on the left-hand side of defence, nullified any potential threat that came from Faithfold’s Jamie Taylor, whilst at the other end the Faithfold goalkeeper kept out a stinging shot from Andrews from close range.
The game was finally settled and any doubt as to the outcome removed when Bloom struck twice in as many minutes in the closing stages of the game. First he latched on to an Andrews ball over the tiring Faithfold and volleyed into the corner before he coolly despatched a one-on-one after good build-up play from Marcus for his 20th goal of the season in the 10 matches that he has played.
Neasden substitute Mark Simons, on for Kaye, then saw an effort flash wide as he let fly with a left-footed effort after cutting in from the right flank as the game finished with the one-sided look that Neasden’s dominance deserved.
And so, Neasden remain in touching distance of Southgate Harmen, with a 1st vs. 2nd crunch match on the cards at Ashmole next weekend, with Red Sea on their tails, just two points behind, after they matched Neasden with a 4-1 victory over London Maccabi Lions C.
The race for promotion seems destined to go down to the wire and Neasden did their chances the world of good today as they secured their fourth win on the bounce. The spirit within the camp is such that Neasden will think they have a great chance of securing an unprecedented third successive promotion. However, as they say it is not over until the fat lady sings… and she hasn’t even got her piano out yet!
Neasden C: S. Beresford; R. Stolzman, J. Hilton, A. Levesen, S. Fisher; J. Kaye (sub: M. Simons), G. Dymant, P. Andrews, D. Marcus; B. Dymant, S. Bloom.
Sub not used: D. Grabiner
NWN scorers: Jamie Kaye 22, Stephen Bloom 28, 83, 86
Faithfold C scorer: Ben Lewis