Singh Sabha Slough made history as they won their first ever top division title as they won the East Berkshire Football League Premier Division in dramatic fashion on the last day of the season after beating runners-up and title rivals Britwell 3-1 away from home at The Chicken Ranch. Report by Zuf Asghar.
A game that was dubbed winner takes all definitely delivered, league leaders Sabha travelled to 2nd placed Britwell on Saturday knowing a draw against their title rivals who were a point behind will give them their first ever league title. Both sides looked strong on paper with over 100 of local fans in attendance with a fun fair in the background it was definitely a perfect setting for a title deciding game. Sabha were dealt a blow before the game as they lost top goalscorer Hassan Mahmood to a wrist injury, Sabha were also without Anwar Alzinber and centre back Happi Purewal who was immense in the reversed fixture earlier in the season.
Sabha were able to recall winger Mubarak Bashir to the starting line-up which was the only change from last week's 9-0 victory over Slough Laurencians A. Sabha bolstered a talented bench which included Omar Riaz, Dillon Bains, Karim Chaibi and Rashid Hamid and the players were ready to be called upon if needed.
Sabha started the game well as they got the ball down early and started to play and a fine flowing team move saw an effort by in form Harry Laflin well saved by the Britwell keeper. Britwell first real chance came as winger Cheyenne Cripps go away on the left and side as his cross was met by Aydn Christian but the effort was saved by Sabha keeper Mampreet Pooni. Sabha looked in control as the wingers were causing issues down the flanks as Bashir was making some good runs but lacking conviction with the final pass.
Sabha midfielder Nav (Bobby) Samra nearly pulled of one of the strikes of the season as he left fly from 25 yards out with the keeper beaten the ball bounced back off the inside of the post, a great effort by Samra very unlucky not to have scored. Young Samra only 21 was impressive throughout the game. The game became scrappy midway through the half as both sides were lacking quality in the final third of the pitch. Both sides had half chances as Britwell came close through Richard Jeffries header and then Sabha centre back Chan Sidhu headed straight at the Britwell keeper from a Conrad Joseph freekick. Joseph then had a great opportunity just outside the box after Jovan Bains was fouled but his free-kick sailed over the bar. In a game where we were expecting goals but both teams went into the break at 0-0. At this point maybe one goal could seal the win.
Both teams came out with real intent at the start of the second-half and Britwell started the better as they applied early pressure and nearly got a goal through Aydn Christian as his quick thinking from a free-kick caught out Sabha keeper Pooni but the ball just went past the post. Sabha then lost winger Mubarak Bashir through injury who was replaced by Karim Chaibi, and Chaibi made a real impact straight away as some fine individual tricks saw him get away from the Britwell defender and getting a shot away only for the shot to be saved by the Britwell keeper not once but twice.
Sabha were now finally getting in the mood as the game opened up and just on the hour mark took the lead as the impressive Ousman Lulastani showed why he is a quality player despite having a very indifferent game he produced a moment of magic after receiving the ball on the left wing just inside the box from Conrad Joseph, Lulastani beat his man before unleashing a vicious left foot strike across the Britwell keeper it flashed in before the keeper could move.
Sabha were fully deserving of their lead and were hoping to seal the game but Britwell fought back and equalised 7 minutes later after Sabha player Samra was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box with the referee pointing to the spot despite protest from the Sabha players the penalty was given and also Sabha defender Jagdeep Bhullar being sinbinned for 10 mins for his protest. Britwell striker Dan Molloy slotted home from the spot to give hope to the hosts as the game was poised for a frantic finale for the last 20 plus minutes.
Sabha bought on fresh legs as they managed to deal with the 10 minutes with 10 men, and could have re-taken the lead during this period as Laflin was denied by a superb save by the Britwell keeper. Sabha got a massive scare as the Britwell centre back came close with an effort which was flashed across the goal but missed everyone and the far post. Sabha retook the lead with 10 minutes to go with a wonderful move which saw Laflin slip in Chaibi who cheekily toe poked the ball past the Britwell keeper and sent the fans and players into wild celebrations which included a small pitch invasion.
Sabha bought on more fresh legs for the final 10 minutes as Hamid and Riaz were introduced and the ball retention was great as they kept the ball moving and away from Britwell. Sabha sealed the win injury time as the impressive and man of the match Jovan Bains topped his performance with another free-flowing team goal after good work from Riaz and Joseph, Riaz slipped in Bains on the left side who raced into the box before sliding the ball into the back of the net and sealing the title for Singh Sabha.
The final whistle blew and the celebrations began, it was a great match and a great advert for grassroots football and also for the east berkshire football league, the game was enjoyed in good spirits by the fans in attendance and officiated well by the officials who I am sure would have been under immense pressure. Credit to Britwell who played a good game and had a great season and I am sure will be back fighting for the prizes next season as they are a quality club with a lot of talented players best wishes for the future.
Sabha were presented by the league trophy by the EBFL officials in attendance as captain Sukh Malhi lifted his first trophy as Sabha captain as more wild celebrations continued by the players and club officials. It was a great day for all involved and Sabha can definitely enjoy this moment after a very difficult campaign especially with Covid restrictions, stop start season due to lockdown and the Sunday side not having the best of season. Time to recharge for a few weeks before the club are back out again for pre-season for the new season and will definitely be in the EBFL defending the title.
To enter the East Berkshire Football League ahead of the 2021/22 season, or for further information about the league, or an entry form for the upcoming season, please email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org