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Having won just one of their last three games – a GFSN Cup semi-final victory after a league draw and Unity League Cup defeat to East End Phoenix – Soho came into the match eager to return to form.
The game had been moved from the Oranges’ usual home of Regent’s Park due to the removal of goalposts by grounds staff with a greater interest in beginning the cricket season than closing the football season, and the match began cloaked in the usual chilly atmosphere and ominous fog one could expect from a venue that sounds like it has been plucked from a Dickens novel.
Unfazed by their surroundings, however, Soho began enthusiastically, striker Cameron finding space in the Charlton penalty area in less time after kick-off than it took me to type “Soho vs Charlton notes” on my phone. However, he pulled the chance wide, keeping the scores level.
Soho continued on the front foot, building on their impressive GFSN Cup semi-final victory two weeks prior. The game in Dublin saw Charlie and Phil pushed wide on the flanks, and both continued their fine form in this game, Charlie darting in behind the Charlton defence after five minutes to reach a through ball from midfielder Kieran, but failing to find a Soho head with his cross.
The rest of the team’s forwards did as much defensively as offensively, harassing the visitors’ defenders and consistently turning over possession. Lorcan won the ball off the Charlton left-back and crossed for Rash, he who earlier in the season scored an actual header with his actual head, who was unable to double his tally of headed goals for the season.
The deadlock was broken after 12 minutes, when a long ball from goalkeeper Will bounced emphatically over the Charlton back line, and Lorcan was the first to react. He was able to round the keeper and finish smartly, taking his goalscoring tally to five in two games following his four-goal hall in Dublin.
Soho continued to press the Charlton defence, but with the home side unable to extend their lead and the visitors not threatening on the break, the game began to devolve into a scrappy affair. Both sides grew frustrated with what they perceived to be overly physical challenges from the opposition, and a lack of attacking coherence from their teammates, and a Charlton midfielder was eventually booked for kicking the ball away for all things.
Tempers threatened to flare up on the sidelines when the Soho coaching staff, egged on by a group claiming to be the Soho Ultras – in reality two blokes leaning on a step ladder just off the pitch – squared up to a frustrated Charlton player, but the tension quickly evaporated.
As the heat went out of the afternoon, a game of football broke out, and Soho doubled, and then tripled, their lead in the second half. Rash swung in a corner after 37 minutes that caused all manner of chaos in the Charlton box, which allowed Cameron to score a poacher’s finish. Four minutes later, captain James sent a long ball into the Charlton half, clearly having taken notes from Will’s assist to open the scoring, which was picked up by Cameron, who fired home to make it 3-0.
With seconds to go in the first half, Lorcan looked to put the game beyond doubt by attempting an audacious lob from some distance, but he mishit the shot, and Soho went in at the break three goals up.
The second half started in much the same manner as the first had ended, with a high Soho press suffocating the Charlton defenders, and a hugely impressive Kieran at the base of the Oranges’ midfield sweeping up any loose balls that made it past the first line of pressure. While the first half had been marred by positional incoherency, with Kieran’s midfield partner Bjørn at one point advancing with such gusto as to literally run into Rash, the midfield was more settled after the restart.
Five minutes into the second half, a fourth came as centre-back AJ became the latest player to take a direct route to the Charlton penalty area. His long ball was flicked on by Rash – there’s that actual header! – and into the path of Cameron, who bundled the ball home to make it four. The finish completed his hat-trick, and put him top of the league’s scoring charts, with 13 goals from Soho’s 11 games.
The remainder of the game oscillated between the sublime and the ridiculous: AJ pulled off a particularly obvious air shot on the edge of the box, only for his mistake to nearly turn into a moment of genius as the ball fell to midfielder Dan; and yours truly ballooned a lob in behind the Charlton defence that had a very aesthetically pleasing trajectory, but was completely unhelpful when it came to actually controlling the ball and kicking it into the goal, as Kieran found as he tried to volley the pass home.
Kieran was unlucky not to make his excellent performance with a goal, as he hit the post towards the end of the game, which petered out into an ultimately comfortable win for the home side. The result saw Soho return to the top of the table on 31 points, two ahead of Titans 2Brewers, while Charlton remain at the bottom of the table with a single point.
Soho face stern tests ahead of a potential league and cup double this season; all of their remaining league games are against sides in the top half of the table, and their next game is this weekend, against East End Phoenix, the only side to get a positive result against the Oranges in any competition this season. Soho will face the same opponents in the final of the GFSN Cup at the end of the season, so the team will be eager to get a positive result against Phoenix.
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