Moors Academy 2 Fairfield Villa 1
Khooshkoo at the double as Moors grind out win - by Ronald Crane
Coming from behind to win a game of football is not really Moors Academy style. But on this cold but sunny afternoon, they did just that.
It was a game that deserved top billing amongst Saturday’s Division Two fixtures. Both teams were in the top five, chasing down a top three position.
In the first half, the workmanlike visitors’ midfield nullified the passing ability of the home side.
The young Moors were left chasing shadows as too many of Sam Manoochehri’s side were just not at the races.
Moors were vulnerable along their left flank. They were exposed a couple of times before Fairfield’s Ellis Blakemore received the ball on the edge of the area, and scored with a beautifully hit shot into the corner. 0-1.
It was the visitors first serious foray into Moors territory and it bore rich fruit. With an hour and a quarter to play, would the home side stand up to the test?
From every set-piece Fairfield put the ball right under Ben Maxwell’s bar. The young keeper was equal to the aerial assault and on several occasions did really well to keep the ball out of the net.
He punched clear, he caught the ball, he tipped it over the bar; he smothered it with his body, he threw everything on the line, to make sure the deficit stayed at one.
As the first half wore on, the visitors were visibly tiring, and Moors took advantage, and scored.
With the Moors bench contemplating a change, and with two minutes to the break, Arman Khooshkoo, who’d been quiet, latched on to a cross from the right by Gill.
Gill was fouled but referee Gittins waved “play-on” – and Khooshkoo looped a header into the net. The sides headed in for a cup of tea, level at the break.
The second half produced no better football, but temperatures rose. One started to wonder whether both sides would finish the game with eleven men on the pitch?
On one occasion Nathan Binner was fouled in an off the ball incident, but it went unnoticed by the referee.
It was one of a number fouls committed as both sides looked to take the initiative.
Maxwell kept the Moors in the game on 56 minutes when he tipped the ball over the bar. The Fairfield striker could of been no more than three yards out.
It was a top-notch save, and kept Moors in the game at a crucial time. From the resulting corner, Maxwell produced another point blank save as Fairfield applied pressure.
Five minutes later, Moors were ahead. Reiss McNally, who himself had been growing into the game, made progress along his right flank and into the area.
His pass was perfectly timed. Khooshkoo beat the off-side trap and showed real composure to round the keeper, before tapping the ball into an empty net.
Finally, we had a game. Fairfield pressed forward in search of an equaliser. There were times when the Moors defence had to stretch every sinew to keep them out.
Alex Wilkes tried his luck from distance, but once again Maxwell was more than up to the challenge.
Taking the ball to the corner flag, keeping the ball at feet, and with accurate passing Moors denied Fairfield and saw out the game.
It was not pretty. Indeed, one could not say the Young Moors played well, for they did not; but they won.
Ugly it may have been, but it was effective. One or two Moors Academy players came of age in this game, and ugly or not, it was good to see.
“I am very pleased with the win. We had to grind it out, and it was not pretty.” Manager Sam Manoochehri said after the game.
“Sometimes you have to win ugly. Although we did not play well, we did win, and that can only be good. We look forward to next Saturday and our trip to Knowle.”
Moors: Maxwell; McNally; Sephton; Jones; Thomas; Kendrick; Martin (Mahmood); Binner (Andrews); Gill; Bennett6; Khooshkoo [43 & 61]
Subs not used Hirst; Mbuti; & Barkers
Next Match: Saturday 9th February 2019 Knowle v MAFC KO 2:30pm: at The Robins Nest, Hampton Road, Knowle, B93 0NX