Easterhouse Football Academy defeated Ashfield 5-1 at the Firhill Complex on Friday evening, to maintain a perfect start to their season. The result means that Ashfield will drop to tenth in Conference B of the West of Scotland Development League, while Easterhouse rise to second, joint on points with league leaders Giffnock SC.
The early minutes of the first half were a sign of things to come over the proceeding 45 minutes, with the two sides flying into a high-tempo end-to-end affair. It was the hosts Ashfield who drew first blood, with a smooth passing sequence down the right flank finding the feet of winger Rasti Hussein, who had no qualms about firing the ball into the back of the net from the right side of the penalty area.
After their early goal, Ashfield continued to push forward but faced strong resistance from an Easterhouse side determined to retain their unbeaten start to the season. After threatening early on, it was striker Rhys Martin who levelled the scoring, collecting the ball inside the box and finding the net from a tight angle around the 15-minute mark.
Ashfield trialist Kristian Storer showed signs of his ability when he managed to control the ball in the air, turning quickly and striking the ball well on the volley, just missing the target. One of the most commendable parts of the first half was not only the high-tempo or attacking intent that the sides brought to the game but in particular the desire and ability to build play from the back.
Both sides’ centre-backs looked comfortable on the ball and tried to impress these playing ideas upon their respective teams. It seemed impossible to split the two sides as exciting battles commenced with Kyle Deas in the Easterhouse engine room and Ross McSorley of Ashfield, with Deas showing real guile in recovering the ball in the midfield while the latter resisted the pressure of his opponents and brought his side forward in the transition.
After some good duels in the wide areas, the decisive moment in the half came when Martin picked up a loose ball on the left flank around the halfway line, drove forward and picked out a charging run from Stuart Pratt, who took the ball in his stride and fired past Angus Hughes to make it 2-1 before the break.
The goal and the half-time break seemed to galvanise the high-flying visitors as they took early control of the second 45. Jay Murdoch could not have had a cleaner strike of a bouncing ball and must have been furious to see his strike bounce off the inside of the bar and back out, off the line.
Craig Queen would then show great skill on the dribble on the right flank but his inviting ball across the box was left unmatched.
It was actually Ashfield who scored the first goal of the second chapter of the game through their captain, but the lobbed effort was disallowed due to an infringement with goalkeeper Kevin Rutherford.
After forcing a good stop from Hughes in the Ashfield goal, Martin was determined to find the net once more and kill the game. He would take his chance after a great passing move down the right side between Joshua McGilp and Queen saw the ball cut back to the Easterhouse number nine, who made no mistake. This would catalyse a dominant second-half display from Easterhouse who made a statement of their title intentions.
Martin grabbed his hat trick when he pressed and won the ball off an Ashfield defender, before taking the ball into the box and smashing home.
As the teams made use of their squads Murdoch would have his goal, meeting a perfect diagonal ball from Jude Nolan to send a looping header into the goal for five.
There were still moments of magic in the latter stages with Ashfield’s Paddy McHugh nearly creating something special after a daring run through the Easterhouse ranks, while Stuart Pratt of the latter side seemed to have a third lung. The wide player almost played a box-to-box role through the game, never shying out of a challenge or his defensive duties, but also offering a dangerous option in the attacking third.
It was a big night for Easterhouse where they managed to show their quality against an Ashfield side that will cause many teams problems this season. There’s certainly an exciting season to follow in Conference B of the West of Scotland Development League.
Ashfield Player of the Match: Ross McSorley
Playing in the midfield, McSorley was often the calmest man in the Firhill Complex. Whenever he got the ball, he always seemed one step ahead of the rest, gliding between pressing opponents and fashioning opportunities for his teammates. Even against a side of Easterhouse’s quality, McSorley stood out and no one seemed to get near him.
Easterhouse Player of the Match: Rhys Martin
With a hat trick and an assist; Martin will have to win this one. The Easterhouse number nine looked a threat from minute one and not only showed his positional awareness but also his deadly finishing capabilities. Each of his goals displayed his powerful striking quality, while his assist and third goal showed his ability to venture into other areas and create something out of the blue.
Honourable Mention: Stuart Pratt
On another night, it could well have been Pratt taking home the champagne. His contribution to the win was immense and certainly, one that was recognised by his coaches and teammates. It’s not often you see a wide player with such a desire to not only get forward and create danger in the attacking areas but also to charge back and recover the ball in defence. His attributes will certainly be called upon time and again as the season goes on.
Ashfield Magic Moment: There is no point pressing Ross McSorley
Yes, we are raving about him again. McSorley dropped deep to collect the ball from defence and as two opponents seemed certain to tackle him, they were left lost as the young midfielder glided past and found a teammate.
Easterhouse Magic Moment: Track No.3
The build-up to the third goal showed exactly what Easterhouse are about. After retaining possession and moving it across the back four, McGilp drove up the right flank and had some really nice passes with Queen before the latter spotted a late run into the penalty area and found Martin for the goal.
Ashfield FC U20s
1. Angus Hughes
2. Andrew Carruthers
3. Lachlan Frame
4. Austin McLaughlin
5. Jamie Hillis
6. Rennie Robertson
7. Rasti Hussein
8. Lucas Pierotti
9. (T) Kristian Storer
10. Ross McSorley
11. Cael Gibb
12. Harris Burns
16. Maixent Elanga
18. Lewis McCann
19. Paddy McHugh
21. Barry Burns
1A. Konnor Robertson
Easterhouse FA U20s
1. Kevin Rutherford
2. Joshua McGilp
3. Ben Allison
4. Kyle Deas
5. Aidan Docherty
6. Aedan Joeseph Stewart
7. Stuart Pratt
8. Jay Murdoch
9. Rhys Martin
10. Graham Mitchell
11. Craig Queen
12. Jude Nolan
14. Lyle Anderson
15. Ryan Aitkens
16. Thomas Cassidy
17. Rafael Ardeleanu
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