South Bank defence shines as title creeps into sight

South Bank defence shines as title creeps into sight

Darnell Depradine’s brilliant header saw LSBU take the spoils over UCL in this table topping six pointer

 

Having comfortably dispatched a spirited but underwhelming Middlesex the week before with ease, this game proved to be the exact opposite in more than just score line. It was a game that held all the hallmarks of a top of the table clash. LSBU were just a point behind UCL but with a game in hand. UCL had dispensed with the other team vying for the title – Suffolk the week before. A draw would have made South Bank favourites for the title, a defeat would hand the initiative back to UCL.

 

The pitch before South Bank ensured that a smooth, quick passing rhythm was unlikely to flow. The bobbles meant the fall never stayed flat across the turf. Acclimatising to this surface from the smooth astro turf of Burgess Park meant that South Bank started the game firmly on the back foot.

 

After a poor clearance, the ball was slid into the LSBU box, some grappling failed to stop the ball being squared to the middle where the pitch made its first intervention, the ball bobbled up meaning the scuffed goalwards shot was comfortably, yet vitally blocked on the line by Clive Sarireni.

 

It was South Bank that had the best chance of the game so far. Exploiting a weak UCL backline, a brilliant lofted through ball from Amin Martinez found LSBU striker James Leyton. Having already bagged a dozen goals this season, you would have bet that after showing excellent control to bring the ball down and bear down on goal, he would have slotted his shot past the keeper but it wasn’t to be as his poked shot went agonisingly wide.

 

In game of such fine margins, it often takes either a moment of brilliance or moment of luck to produce a goal. In the case of the opening goal, it was neither. Just a long through into the box from the left wing. The ball sailed over everyone only to be met on the six-yard line by a gleeful UCL poacher who volley home the simplest and most frustrating of goals to reward UCL’s dominance thus far.

 

South Bank were firmly on the back foot and were indebted to their keeper Joe Cook who made the first of a string of saves to keep his team in the game. A well placed through ball from the left wing was seized upon by the UCL man who without needing a touch, struck his shot goalwards bring a smart save from Cook and keeping the game to within the one goal. South Bank almost broke the dominant period by scoring against the run of play. A throw in of their own from Bradley Baterip on the right was controlled by Leyton despite a big shunt in the back, getting back up quickly and showing all the dogged determination that has shone throughout his season, he turned his man and dinked a cross to the back post. It found an onrushing Kaylem Weadock who planted his volley straight into the ground where it bounced painfully over the bar and it was yet another golden chance gone awry.

 

UCL responded with the best chance since going in front. An interception in midfield was grabbed by the UCL defender, the loose ball was nudged around the oncoming LSBU defender leaving the UCL frontman with a one on one of his own. Charging to the edge of the box before picking his moment to strike, the fierce shot was met by a powerful and brave save by Cook, standing up strongly to deny UCL once again.

 

If LSBU had ridden their luck before-hand, they were perhaps fortunate to benefit from their own slice as half-time approached. As mentioned, luck can make all the difference but good teams make their own luck and it was with that luck that South Bank equalised. A corner from the left sailed across the six-yard box where it was only half-cleared. Connor Burrows managed to half control the ball before it was kicked of his toes. Matt Clarke on the edge of the box brought the ball back under control before moving it on to Weadock on his right. His first-time cross was only flicked on by Burrows but luckily behind him lurked Pol Basso-Pinol. There were claims that he was offside but before they came, he headed goal-wards over the keeper but the lack of power gave UCL a golden chance to clear. Bizarrely however, the UCL man on the line chose to stoop to head clear rather than the obvious option to boot it clear. His header could only fall as far as Burrows who had stayed up and volley home easily from six yards to give South Bank a crucial leveller.

 

Connor Burrows (L) scored a crucial equaliser for LSBU whilst keeper Joe Cook (R) made a number of vital saves

 

There is never a bad time to score in football, but there are most definitely better times than others to score. And with only a few minutes remaining in the half when you’re one-nil down is certainly one of the better times to score.

 

After a warning shot from LSBU substitute Ishmail sailed wide of the post. South Bank got their chance and they grabbed it. A throw in from the left was flicked into the path of Leyton by Darnell Depradine. He twisted and turned, trying to find a route further into the UCL penalty area. Unable to advance further, he laid the ball off to Ishmail. He took one step to his right before swinging a cross into the box where it was met by Depradine who thundered his header into the top corner and fired his team into the lead.

 

Darnell Depradine (center) scored the crucial winning goal with an excellent header

 

Being at your most vulnerable when you have just scored almost proved true for South Bank. Another poor clearance allowed UCL in again, initially one on one before being chased back by Baterip. It almost stalled the attack completely before the UCL forward shimmied his way into a shooting position and with his left foot, unleashed a snap shot that Cool did excellently to keep out given it travelled through the legs of Baterip.

 

South Bank finally began to settle on their lead and almost increased it soon after that chance. A free kick out on the left was whipped in by Ishmail and bounced all the way to the back post where Depradine nodded it back across goal, Leyton was waiting to pounce but the ball was whipped away from him at the crucial moment.

 

That chance wasn’t to prove costly though as the referee brought the curtain down on a brilliant and determined victory that could prove invaluable as the league comes towards its conclusion. Two points clear and with a game in hand on UCL mean the initiative is well and truly with South Bank in the run in. However, three games still remain and they will be wary of conceding any ground and giving any hope to those chasing as they remain in the pursuit of title glory.

Weadock quadruple sends South Bank top

Weadock quadruple sends South Bank top

The LSBU winger eased to his 12th goal of the season against Middlesex but second half defensive frailties will be of concern going forward.

 

In what could have easily passed for a carbon copy of the reverse fixture in November last year, the game against Middlesex followed an oh so similar pattern. Race into a massive lead in the first half, score some great goals, win the game after 45 minutes. Then come out again and sit off, and leave the first half magic in the changing room. The only difference here today, is that sitting off cost them more dearly than the first time, three goals rather than one, and they did at least check the poor defensive errors by scoring four more goals to make it 9-3 at full-time.

 

Fast starts have been a bedrock of LSBU’s impressive form this season. In fact, they scored their quickest goal of the season in the reverse fixture. Today was no exception. Racing onto a loose Middlesex pass, Amin Martinez charged forward before sliding through a pass to Kaylem Weadock who took the ball out of the path of the defender and slotted home from 12 yards.

 

 

That goal meant Weadock and James Leyton were tied for goals scored this season and the LSBU frontman almost responded immediately. A flick from Darnell Depadrine was chested down and from the edge of the area, Leyton fired a powerful volley that looked for all the world like it was going to nestle in the bottom corner only for the post to come to Middlesex’s rescue.

 

South Bank pressure kept up relentlessly. Matt Clarke had a powerful shot tipped over the crossbar and Mo Gani shot narrowly wide from outside the box before a rare Middlesex foray into LSBU’s half almost gave them a shock equaliser. A cross from the left went deep to the back post, initially headed half clear from Clive Sarireni, the ball was controlled by the Middlesex forward who spun well before unleashing a ferocious volley goal-wards only to see it met by a spectacular block from Sarireni who denied Middlesex a certain equaliser.

 

After preventing a goal at one end, Sarireni turned from saviour to provider just moments later. Latching onto a through ball from Clarke, Sarireni, turned inside his man and despite being harassed by the Middlesex defender, managed to hold up the ball long enough to lay it off to Leyton who dropped back to receive the ball and fired home a brilliant first time left-footed shot from the edge of the box and South Bank had powered into a two-goal lead.

 

Leyton was instrumental in LSBU’s next goal. His quick feet and trickery drawing a cynical foul from the Middlesex defender just outside the box. Up step Weadock. Having found the net twice already this season from free-kicks, this one was presented to him on the other side of the goal, better suited for a right footer. But nothing was going to prevent him curling another sublime effort into the top right corner, leaving the keeper flat-footed. 3-0 and nothing less than South Bank deserved.

 

LSBU’s forth also came courtesy of a free-kick, although, with a huge degree of fortuity about it. Wide out on the right wing. Clarke swung a left-footed curling ball into the box that flicked off a Middlesex head and nestled perfectly – if unluckily into the corner. A cruel own goal but an own goal nonetheless.

 

LSBU’s fifth was as simplistic as they come really. Depadrine won a good tackle just inside the Middlesex half, spun and released Mo Gani who charged at the solo defender in front of him. To his left was the lurking Leyton who tucked away with ease after Gani’s simple forward pass.

 

Easy enough to say a job well done at half-time and that the second-half emphasis would be on pushing on with ruthless aggression. But far from keeping Middlesex on the back foot, it was South Bank that found themselves going backwards. Despite the scoreline, Middlesex possessed their own danger man who struggled to get going in the first-half but wasted no time asserting his ability in the second. The number seven received the ball just inside the LSBU half and proceeded to carve through the entire South Bank team like a blowtorch through butter. Poking the ball home past stand-in keeper Charlie Wetton to ruin any chances of second successive clean sheet.

 

5-1 however is no reason to fret but it almost became 5-2 almost straight after. A corner was only half cleared and as the ball ran away from the goal, the referee blew after adjudging that Depadrine had tripped the Middlesex man. Penalty to Middlesex. Usually players are pushing to take the penalty, in this case though, it was trying to give the ball to someone else. Once responsibility had finally been assigned, Wetton got down quickly to his left to push the penalty behind for a corner, the lack of power reflected the lack in confidence in the penalty taker.

 

The chance may have gone but more kept coming. A lobbed ball was seized upon by the Middlesex frontman who had beaten the offside trap, the bouncing ball made it awkward and may have been the reason his shot cannoned off of the post rather than nesting the corner of the net.

 

The game started to drift afterwards. Weadock had a chance to complete his hat-trick after an excellent one-two with substitute Pol Basso-Pinol but could only roll his shot into the keeper hands. At the other end, Wetton pushed a long shot wide with Middlesex’s number seven continuing to run all of his team’s attacks. LSBU got themselves on the second-half scoresheet soon after. Finding himself in a chasm of space in the centre of the Middlesex defence, Basso-Pinol received a straight forward pass and one on one with the keeper, toyed with one shot before slotting home South Bank’s sixth.

 

Middlesex responded with a quick one-two of their own. Receiving a defence splitting long ball through the middle, the Middlesex number seven latched onto the loose ball and initially completely missed his first kick at goal, but made no mistake with his second, rolling the ball home. He ran on to another long ball only a few minutes later, taking the ball past the on-rushing South Bank keeper and finishing well from a tight angle to complete his hat-trick.

 

After being kicked back into reality and finding themselves reduced from a five-goal lead to a three-goal lead. South Bank finally found the extra gear they needed to put Middlesex to the sword. Basso-Pinol kicked things off with his second since coming off the bench. A goal very similar to his first. Weadock received a pass to feet from substitute Brian Yego he waited on his pass through, finally releasing the ball to Basso-Pinol, he finished with a smart side-footed strike that made the score 7-3.

 

Weadock had dominated the Middlesex midfield and defence all afternoon and easily deserved his hat-trick. And he could not have been given an easier goal to get it with. Amin Martinez’s corner was curled in; it could have easily gone straight in under the bar. Rather it bounced off the top of the crossbar and then delicately fell to an unmarked Weadock who couldn’t miss his nod home from two yards.

 

The final goal of the game came from a cross from the right. Full-back Bradley Baterip’s deep cross was controlled after the bounce by Yego. Only six yards out, his fierce shot was blocked but Yego persevered to find Basso-Pinol. He was crowded by two defenders but in an attempt to clear, the ball only succeeded in bouncing straight to Weadock who tucked away his second simple tap in and his fourth overall to round of the score at 9-3.

 

The result in truth was never really in doubt. Despite the wobble at 6-3. South Bank’s five goal cushion at half-time was always going to prove insurmountable. The irritation will be conceding three goals to a team bottom of the league with minus three points. That said, to score nine against any opponent is a startling achievement. To do it two games in a row is remarkable. No doubt they will not meet as generous a defence in UCL next time round but the knowledge is there that even when one good opposition player can take a game to them, they can always respond by simply outscoring whoever stands in their way of the title.