Muscat Storm saved the best for the last as it turned out a season-ending 8-4 triumph against Al Amerat at The Sultan’s School ground over the weekend.

The visitors looked comfortable playing in the searing heat and dominated ball possession in the opening 20 minutes.

As the Amerat players switched the ball between the flanks, they tried to prise open the Storm defence. But with Billy White marshalling the host team from the backline, the visitors were kept at bay and were left frustrated.

Steadily, the Storm trio of Oli Myhill, Mark Lennon and Davis Rizzolo started to win the battle of the midfield as the visitors hung on to the ball far too long to make any inroads.

Storm scored with its first chance just as Lennon stole the ball from the opponent. Some neat play between Rizzolo and Kirk McPherson saw the former unleash a 40-yard shot, putting the home team in a 1-0 lead.

The visitors were jolted and tried to strike back, but failed provide any threat to Storm as Joe Bunn and Lee Ebbutt were first to every ball.

The tactics deployed by Storm worked as it absorbed the pressure and counter-attacked quickly. Johnny Murphy slipped the ball to Lennon, whose first-time pass released McPherson and as he raced away from the chasing

defenders, he lobbed the ball over the onrushing Amerat keeper to make it 2-0.

Storm was beginning to enjoy more space as the visitors pushed for their first goal. However, Amerat’s efforts went in vain as Malchus Hilton was set up by McPherson in the 37th minute. Hilton powered his way though the defence and neatly rounded the keeper to make it 3-0.

Amerat nearly pulled one back when a shot from nowhere nearly found the target and Storm’s keeper Fahim pulled off a sharp save.

With minutes to go in the first half, Huw Davies was brought down in the box and McPherson made no mistake from the penalty spot, putting Storm into a 4-0 lead at the break.

Amerat approached the second half with a nothing-to-lose attitude and pushed forward in numbers, but it still couldn’t find a way past White and Ebbutt. It was a lucky break that gave Amerat its first goal as a back pass found an Amerat forward all alone in the six-yard box and he slotted the ball home.

Hilton kept working tirelessly up front and was rewarded with his second strike when Lennon drove into the box and his floated cross was met by Hilton at the back post who scored to maintain Storm’s four-goal lead.

Two quick goals from Abdullah made it 7-1, underlining Storm’s dominance. The visitors clearly were running out of patience as they pushed forward to try and pull back a few goals. A speculative shot from outside the box rocketed into the top corner to make it 7-2. Five minutes later, a well-placed free-kick saw Amerat reduce the margin further, making it 7-3 in favour of Storm.

Storm didn’t panic, though, and when Myhill set up Rizzolo, there was never any doubt of the final outcome as his shot zipped past the Amerat keeper to make it 8-3. As the game drew towards a close, the visitors scrapped for the ball on the edge of the box and were rewarded with a last-minute goal.

Storm’s manager Ebbutt said after the win, “What a way to finish the season. We have been getting stronger with every game and tonight we had to adapt our game to cope with a very good team. I can’t wait to start the next season in September.”

SOURCE: Muscat Daily