The “Saints”, already Champions of Division One in Middlesex County Football League, were at home on Saturday 12th May, against Fire United Christian FC.
Having beaten the opposition in the first league encounter away 1-2, the Saints were desperate to maintain their unbeaten season.
The game settled with the Saints pressing hard and showing some good wing play between Ibadat Mohammedi and Ayub Albadri. An early effort over the bar by Roberto Katsikas showed a growing confidence. It was the wing combination that set Albadri off on one of his fast runs, and some good passing allowed him to open the scoring with a strong finish. 1-0.
The flow did not continue however and Fire United showed some good football and opened up some chances. Goalkeeper Donald Manaj made two excellent saves from long range efforts keeping the Saints dream alive. A Fire United corner was met with a strong header, making it 1-1 and the Saints knew they had to battle.
But as this season has showed us, this Saints team has steel and determination.
In the second half, once they managed to control the ball, relax, and put some passes together, it came good again. A wonderful passing move of the Team’s top-scorer Nikos Salapatas allowed Albadri to head in skilfully for his second. The Champions showed their strength and footballing style. 2-1.
As the game progressed, the Saints pressed and passed well. A long shot from Ibadat Mohammedi found its way between the near post and the goalkeeper and 3-1 was a safe score, for yet another win and the unbeaten season continued. The three goals from the match took the total to 102 goals for the season. An incredible average of 4.6 goals per game.
At the final whistle, the St Panteleimon Community awarded the team a special trophy in recognition of their achievement this year. The players celebrated their unbeaten championship.
After the game, it was declared by the Middlesex League that the Saints have been awarded next week’s final game also, as the opposition cannot field a team.
Therefore, the Saints are officially The Invincibles. A full season, 22 games, unbeaten. 18 victories and 4 draws. Champions and promoted to the Premier Division.
One troubling note was that with five minutes to go, one of the Saints players – Mishari Al Ashban – suffered a collapse and seizure. He was treated well at the scene; quickly put into the recovery position and he was allowed space and time to recover. He was taken to hospital for tests and released. Club officials and our club Chaplain Father Anastasios D. Salapatas, visited him and ensured he was ok. Some good home hospitality, which epitomizes the community spirit of this club, then followed at St. Panteleimon Vicarage, to put an arm around the player. Thanks also to Fire United who were also quick to support at the scene and keep the player comfortable and warm.
Completing the current season successfully is a great achievement for the whole Team! The Manager George Frangeskou should be especially congratulated for his dedication and commitment, the extremely talented Players are those who had actually fought on the football pitch week in week out, the Committee had supported the whole campaign passionately, while the sponsors and fans provided the material and psychological means for the Team in order to get the right results every week. We must also emphasize the importance of the community spirit that comes from St. Panteleimon Greek Orthodox Community in Harrow, NW London, which founded and supports this Team in every step of the way.
Now we look ahead, first of all to allow the Team to have some rest and then to start getting prepared and ready for the next season at the Premier Division of the Middlesex County Football League, where we hope to have a decent campaign in a more competitive football environment.