District aces show quality in cup defeat

Friday, 18th June 2021 — By Steve Barnett

Islington district IMG_6600

Midfielder Ellis Foster-Jones (left) drives Islington forward during the 5-1 defeat against Greenwich

THERE were plenty of positives to pull from Islington’s defeat against district rivals Greenwich on Saturday in the Lester Finch Trophy.

It was the south Londoners celebrating at the sound of the final whistle as they won the match at the Douglas Eyre Sports Centre in Walthamstow 5-1.

But Islington coach Michael MacNeill was full of praise for his Year 6 squad after they took on a side littered with professional clubs’ academy players.

“The scoreline really doesn’t do justice to the players’ performance today. I would say this was probably our best performance of the season so far, considering the high quality of the opposition,” said MacNeill, who also works as a football development manager for the Islington Football Development Partnership – a team-up between the Islington Leisure Team, Arsenal in The Community and GLL.

“We competed really well, working really hard on a very hot morning. We played some good football to get through their backline, which had some very talented players in it.”

Greenwich were fortunate to take the lead within minutes of the kick-off when a shot from the edge of the penalty box was deflected up off a defender, giving Islington keeper Henry Hepburn no chance.

Despite soon finding themselves 2-0 down, Islington continued to search for openings and thought they had been presented with a way back into the match when Max Bell was tripped in the box. The referee originally pointed to the penalty spot, but after consulting with his assistant, he then changed his decision to a corner.

With Ellis Foster-Jones and Jude Gallagher pulling the strings in midfield, Islington did indeed pull a goal back early in the second half. Santino Bryant’s rasping shot was parried by the goalkeeper, and Brody Clarke was on hand to convert the rebound for his third goal of the season.

However, with Islington searching for an equaliser the game became stretched.

And Greenwich had the quality to take advantage as they found three more goals, including two in the final three minutes to give the final scoreline a rather flattering look.

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