Guest match report by JP Casey, Soho FC
Soho’s emphatic 11-0 win over East End Phoenix at Hackney Marshes, on Sunday 14th April, preserved the Oranges’ two-point lead at the top of the London Unity League, while eliminating the league cup finalists from the title race.
The match threatened to be an awkward encounter for Soho, who boasted a perfect record in three competitions this season before coming up against Phoenix in the league and cup, who were able to secure two draws and a victory on penalties, against the Oranges. However, the home side was not deterred and started the game at a ferocious pace, striker Lorcan harassing the Phoenix defenders early on and teeing up winger Kevin, who fired over from just inside the box.
Hard running and aggressive tackling were hallmarks of the Soho team, which featured considerable height and muscle throughout the team. Attacking midfielder Rash was pushed out to one flank to accommodate a three-strong central midfield of Dan Soile, Sam and Kieran, who stomped around the middle of the park, pressing Phoenix midfielders without the ball, and striding stony-faced through the lines with the ball, opposing players toiling around their ankles like lost climbers inching their way up the Himalayas.
However, Phoenix were not without merit, and showed early on why they had averaged more than three goals a game coming into the match. James pushed out of defence to pursue a loose ball, leaving space in behind that was quickly covered by a retreating Dan, and later in the half, a long ball thoroughly befuddled both defenders and goalkeeper, leaving space for a Phoenix forward to strike a shot towards and empty net, only for it to be dramatically hacked off the line by James.
Soho took the lead after 11 minutes through Kevin who, despite firing two shots over the bar in the opening eight minutes, was a constant menace on the Soho right; he pulled wide, dragging the full-back with him, before finding Lorcan charging into the channel between full-back and centre-half. Lorcan drilled a cross for his strike partner, Cameron, who poked home from around three blades of grass out from the line.
The two forwards’ roles were reversed hardly a minute later, as Cameron turned presser and provider, turning over possession deep in the Phoenix half and threading a through ball into Lorcan, who finished smartly.
A third came just three minutes later, as Kevin jinked into the penalty area before being brought down; the challenge could be described as one of those “where you see them given”, but before the referee could respond, Kieran scooped up the loose ball and fired home. Five minutes after that, Lorcan fired a screamer into the Phoenix yet from some distance, giving Soho a four-goal lead after just 21 minutes.
The shadowy masterminds behind the Soho machine had stressed the importance of starting and finishing each half with additional vigour, and once the fourth went in, Soho began to relent, Cameron coming the closest to a fifth with a speculative volley from range. This was also the period where Phoenix enjoyed a spell of possession and produced the chance James had to clear off the line.
Soho kicked on towards the end of the first half and blitzed a further three goals in the last seven minutes before the break. First, Kieran doubled his personal tally, running onto a through ball from Lorcan and colliding with the Phoenix goalkeeper and defender in a big heap, out of which the ball dribbled into the net; then Lorcan completed his hat-trick by heading home a corner whipped in by Rash; and the pair repeated the trick from open play on the stroke of half time, Rash beating his man on the wing and finding Lorcan in space in the box.
By half-time, the score was 7-0, and I had exhausted the array of “surprised” emojis available on the Android keyboard in my notes.
Soho didn’t make any changes for the second half and continued to press hard from the restart, again looking to overwhelm the opponents in the early stages of the half. They were rewarded with another two goals, with Lorcan adding his fifth from a corner, this swung in from Kev on the opposite site, and Kieran completing a hat-trick of his own from yet another corner, this one a Rash delivery flicked on by Lorcan. This goal equalled the club’s record for goals in a league game and there were still 35 minutes left to play.
The second half became scrappier as Soho began to make changes, with Dan Hall introduced in the Kieran role behind the strikers for the latter stages; he dribbled into penalty area and was clipped by a Phoenix defender and the referee pointed to the spot. Unmoved by the pressure of making Soho history and the spectre of his own barren goalscoring record heading into the game, Dan immediately picked up the ball, set it down on the spot and dispatched it coolly.
In the closing stages, Rash set up substitute Bjørn to make it 11 with a neat finish from inside the area, but by then the result was well beyond doubt.
A somewhat shellshocked Phoenix, and a disbelieving Soho, left the field having earned a host of new club records: most goals in a game, largest winning margin, most points in a season and most wins in a season. Soho now have two more games to secure the title, against third-placed Romans, who were also eliminated from title contention by the game’s result, and second-placed Titans 2Brewers. Soho hold a two-point lead over 2Brewers with a game in hand – 2Brewers’ final game is against Soho on what is expected to be the last day of the season – and will be confident about their chances.
Phoenix have three more games this season, including both games against Romans and a clash with Titans XXL, ahead of their league cup final against 2Brewers.
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