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Kentish Town U11 4
(Denny 4, 13 pen; Rees 27, 40)
Canada Blanch U12 0
Whilst Kentish Town ground out a nervy and bruising 0-0 draw against fellow title challengers FC Unity in the U12 9v9 league at Regents Park this weekend, on the next door pitch the U11s eased to a comfortable 4-0 victory against Canada Blanch that keeps them on track for the U11 B tier championship trophy.
Two first half goals from Denny Smith and a second half brace from Reece McCluskey failed to reflect 40 minutes of high intensity possession football by a Kentish Town side who – if they perhaps failed to score quiet as many goals as they might have liked – were never at any stage troubled (and rarely conceded possession to) a completely outclassed opposition.
The extent of Kentish Town’s dominance was all the more impressive considering that a significant number of players had gone straight into this game from an overrunning Camden Region game in which the majority of players on the pitch were drawn from Town’s increasingly impressive pool of talent.
Within four minutes of the start Town were in front, Smith tucking the ball under the keeper from close in from a pinpoint McCluskey pass as early pressure pushed Canada Blanch back into their own area.
Minutes later the two players again combined – and were unlucky not to score a second – as Smith fired in a clever low free kick into the Canada Blanch area from the right, met by a sliding McCluskey close to the penalty spot only for the ball to be scrambled clear by the keeper.
On fourteen minutes, Town succeeded in doubling their lead as Al Reece broke forward down the left hand channel and rolled the ball forward to Smith who was hacked down in the area before he could get a shot away, efficiently converted the resultant penalty by firing the ball into bottom right corner of the goal.
With Town safely ahead, the remainder of the half ran largely without incident, with Mal Hamilton and Ylli Nici solid in defense, Benji Wells and Julio Fresneda neat in midfield and Town content to snuff out Canada Blanche’s few attacks without difficulty whilst not themselves presenting significant threat to a team clearly set up to defend in depth and only attempt to get forward on the occasional break.
Coming out for the second half, with Solly Hamilton and Al Reece introduced together into midfield, and the whole team playing a higher line it was clear that Town were intent on pushing forward with more effect. And they could easily have gone six goals clear within the space of five minutes, had they converted early opportunities.
A minute from the restart Smith seemed almost surprised to receive a careless square ball from a defender when only three yards from goal, and – with time to spare – could only stub the ball straight to the keeper.
Seconds later, Al Reece drove forward from the middle of the pitch and threaded a ball to Smith who again found the keeper from close range. And the same player, immediately afterward, receiving a near identical ball in from Hamilton, could only chip the ball into the keeper’s hands with the whole goal to choose from.
But it wasn’t just Smith who was finding it hard to turn Town’s overwhelming superiority into goals. On twenty four minutes, McCluskey was also unlucky not to find the net – an impressive shot from wide on the right of goal palmed clear by a stretching keeper when it seemed more likely to find the corner.
However, with Al Reece and Solly Hamilton continuing to drive forward play and Canada Blanche largely ineffective for the few moments they regained possession, more Town goals seemed inevitable. The pressure finally told after twenty seven minutes when a struggling Canada Blanche conceded possession in their own half and watched the ball passed around almost the entire Kentish Town team before it reached Smith on the right of goal. Whilst he couldn’t quite get his own shot away, he succeeded in pulling back the ball into the goal mouth where McCluskey, sliding in at pace, found the net from close range.
With a three goal lead in place and little chance of Canada Blanche getting back into the match, Town seemed largely content to keep their opposition pinned back for the remainder of the match. And whilst chances did come – most notably from the increasingly impressive Al Reece and the energetic and mobile Rees McCluskey – Town continued to struggle to turn unchallenged possession and total control into goals.
With the match running into injury time, however, Max Leach spotted McCluskey unattended in the Canada Blanch half and launched a huge kick over the top, which bounced once on the edge of the area leaving the keeper undecided about whether to come out to fetch the ball or not, enabling McCluskey to steal in and jink the ball over his head to grab his second and Town’s fourth.
If anything the four goal margin failed sufficiently to reflect the extent of Town’s dominance and the quality of play now routinely delivered by the U11s, who seem able – on current form – to be able to deal with almost any challenge put in front of them. With only a couple of weeks to go before the season’s end they look odds on to add the U12 B-tier league championship to the one secured by the U11A side in the U11 league last week, before looking forward to the London Cup Final towards the middle of next month
Max Leach gk