Following a long Christmas break, the UWMCCFC returned to action with a top of the table clash against Engineering, a match many had earmarked as one that could prove to be the toughest game of the season. With John Faal returning to the fold for his first appearance of the year, captain Thomas was able to field his strongest side for the first time this year. Clearly aware of the importance of this game, Thomas produced his most inspirational team talk of the year as he told his team to ‘take it seriously.’
The early stages were fairly even, with both sides seeking to establish their dominance on the game in the middle of the park. Fortunately for the UWMCCFC the first clear cut chance of the game fell to perhaps their most clinical finisher, Jack Gould, who calmly side-footed past the keeper from just inside the box. This led to a spell of UMWCCFC dominance where they really should have put the game to bed as Gould dragged a volley wide and had a free header in the centre of the box following a wicked cross from Platt before Platt himself had a shot inside the box that the keeper did well to get down to.
Engineering did not create much throughout the match as another solid performance from the UWMCCFC defence ensured Kraus was largely untroubled in goal, whilst both Nedmonds and Gould worked extremely hard in the centre of the park to provide solid protection for the duration. However there was one scary moment as a high ball into the box was not collected by Kraus and dropped invitingly at the feet of an Engineering player, only for him to volley straight at Berger-North on the line who had intelligently placed himself on the line.
The UWMCCFC followed this quickly with the second goal that their first half performance had deserved, as a corner from Gould saw a scrappy goalmouth scramble end up with Platt tapping in from close range to continue his prolific form and justify Thomas’ controversial and hotly debated decision to continue with him the two of them up top instead of the returning Faal, in addition to securing a 2-0 half time lead.
Both sides knew the first ten minutes of the second half were key and it was the UWMCCFC who proceeded to produce their best spell of football this season as they blitzed Engineering with three quick goals of the highest quality to completely end the game as a contest. The first came courtesy of a nice move down the left that saw Faal play a ball across the face of goal for Platt to grab his second tap in. Faal then got himself on the score sheet to mark a fine season debut as a clever through ball from SDT presented Faal with the chance to chip the keeper on the half volley.
The pass of the match led to the UWMCCFC’s final goal as a stunning cross field ball from Faal after cutting in from the left wing went right over the defence to leave Liam David with a shot on goal that the keeper, who till that point had put in a strong performance, could only spill right onto the feet of Platt who wrapped up what must be one of the shortest hat-tricks Tarkett has ever seen in terms of combined distance.
The victory ensures the UWMCCFC establish a healthy lead at the top of the table as teams start to look towards the playoffs, whilst also laying down a significant statement to the other teams at the top. They head into next week’s fixture against Hong Kong Soc full of confidence; however with rumours of key men unavailable and Thomas pondering strong rotation, there seems to be a chance for other players to stake a claim for selection as the season approaches crunch time.