Neasden chairman Steve Murad said he’s proud of the effort and attitude his side have shown over the past couple of months as they claimed the point on Sunday morning which secured their Premier Division status for next season.
MGBSFL Premier Division
FC Team A 0 North West Neasden 0
Sunday, 17 May, 2015
Needing just a point at Team to send Maccabi London Lions Blue down into Division One at their expense, it was the visitors who came closest to coming away with three points, striker Dan Orgel in particular denied on no fewer than three occasions by smart stops from Mike Myers in the Team goal.
However, just delighted to secure top-flight football next season, Murad said: “Needless to say, we’re extremely pleased and elated to avoid relegation. With four games to go we needed eight points, and it seemed that we were written off by everyone. However, we kept our belief within the team and when it really mattered every member of the squad delivered. I’m extremely proud of the effort and attitude of the team and of course the dedication and hard work of our manager, Stirling Kay.
Reflecting back on a mixed season for the club, Murad says: “We started very slowly and lost a number of key players early on due to long-term injuries. This massively affected our form in the first few games as we were having to play people out of position where they weren’t comfortable.
“As the season went on, we started to play better football and confidence grew. Throughout the season, we’ve been pretty good defensively. We’ve actually conceded less goals than a couple of the teams above us in the table and our main problem has been scoring goals. Most of the games we lost have been by the odd goal and I can count eight points that we have lost in the last 10 minutes of games, which is very frustrating as we should’ve been comfortably clear of relegation long before the last day.
“Having said that, it was a great achievement doing it the hard way and made for a very exciting end of season at the club! All in all, having just been promoted last season, our main objective was to stay in the division and we have done that. This league is very competitive, there are some quality teams and every week is a battle to get points. Woodford finished as champions of Division One last season, a point ahead of us in second and they ended the season with just five points, well adrift at the bottom. So I think we have done very well to come up and stay up. In addition to securing our Premier Division status, we also had a great run in both cups getting to the semi-final and quarter final of the Cyril Anekstein and Peter Morrison respectively.”
Sunday’s game wasn’t exactly one for the purist, though those chances that were created were mostly for the visitors. Orgel spurned two carbo-copy efforts in the first half, denied by Myers, while it was the same after the break, with Myers denying Orgel once more as well as Adam Arnold.
Happy with their performance on the day, Murad said: “I thought given the massive occasion and knowing what was at stake, the boys did very well today. We had three clear-cut chances that we were unfortunate not to score from, their goalkeeper made some excellent saves.
“Defensively we were solid and our goalkeeper hardly had a save to make. They played some nice football but only really seemed a threat from balls in the air, which our defence and goalkeeper dealt with comfortably. Without having too much of the ball, we looked the more dangerous on the attack but with time running down on the clock we became more cautious and wanted to ensure we did’nt concede in the last few minutes as has happened so many times previously. Credit must also be given to FC Team. They had absolutely nothing to play for today but gave everything from the first minute till the last.”
And looking ahead to next season – and hoping not to become embroiled in another relegation scrap – he said: “We’ll be looking to strengthen our squad. We’ll start pre-season training in July and anyone interested in joining the club should email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Stirling has done a great job this year and we look forward to him continuing as our manager next season. With the right additions, we are hoping that next year we will be able to improve our league position whilst having another successful campaign in the cups.
Manager Stirling Kay said: “It was no more than the lads deserved. Playing against a big powerfull side on a tight pitch with the grass needing a cut, this was never going to be a game for the purists but it was a game where both teams were totally committed, they were certainly there to win the game.
“However, our biggest concern is that we had three one-on-one’s which their goalkeeper saved very well, and two other great saves which kept them in the game. Being such a big side at every opportunity from free-kicks and corners, they were a big threat but our back five were superb and competed with every header, never giving their forwards a kick.
“We came to win the game but came up against an inspired back four and goalkeeper. The last 15 minutes was squeaky bum time but we saw the game out and the lads’ great escape was completed. No question this was a most fantastic effort from the squad, we were dead and buried in December but we stuck together, reached quarter and semi-finals and somehow achieved what we set out to do which was to stay in the Premier Division. We played on the the front foot, as Frank Sinatra would say, we did it our way…”
Team manager Ben Gilbey said he felt the draw was the fair result, saying: “It was a very boring game as the scoreline suggests. Neasden were probably the closest to scoring of the two, but thanks to Mike Myers, they were denied. They got what they wanted and stayed up, so they were delighted after being extremely pumped for the game. All in all, even though we weren’t quite at the races attackingly, our defensive display against a roaring Neasden was very impressive. I believe it was a fair result in the end after how the game played out.”
The point helped consolidate Team’s fifth place finish and Gilbey reflected back on what he has called a successful season. He said: “After being tipped to be in a relegation dog fight at the start of the season, on reflection we have had a successful year. We finished comfortably in fifth spot and I think all the boys can be really pround of themselves for what we have achieved.
“Going forward we are going to be looking to bring in more players and that of a high standard. Next year we intend on challenging for the title!”