In blistering cold conditions Stepney FC were made to sweat for maximum points as their dogged opponents refused to lie down.
Hawk & Eagle FC have been the whipping boys of the winter league campaign so far but a 14 goal loss a fortnight ago was subsequently followed up with a morale boosting cup win last week. It seemed to raise confidence amongst the ranks of the Eagles, who so far this season have failed to soar anywhere near the heady heights of the ILFL league table.
The first half was a fiery affair with Stepney going all out to boost their goal difference. Manager Mujibur Rahman had lost a few regulars but had set up an attacking formation. Judging by the thrashings handed out to Hawk & Eagles in recent weeks it was the obvious tactical choice.
Stepney marksman Mustafa Shahid set the Reds on the way with a neat finish from a through ball by captain Zaheer Saleh, but that was cancelled out by Mahin Zaman. Veteran Forhad Ahmed restored the lead but the Eagles seemed to be a different team altogether with Shazib Miah again levelling after capitalising on a defensive blunder.
Fifteen minutes into the second half Harun Rashid was fouled outside the box and Shuheb Ahmed lifted an exquisite free kick over the wall and into the right corner for 3-2.
Hawk & Eagle refused to give in and upped their energy levels in search of an equaliser. Player manager Rahman bought himself on to add an extra man in midfield for Stepney. A goalmouth scramble ten minutes from time saw goalkeeper Ruku Sultan suffer a painful arm and shoulder injury after a fantastic clearing save. Sultan was to play no further part in the game and club stalwart Sham Zaman slotted in between the sticks as Stepney stroked the ball around to see home an unexpectedly hard fought win.
Manager Mujibur Rahman said, “It was cold, it was harsh but the important thing is we won. Well done to the team and to our opponents for their attitude. They may not be having the best season but they have plenty of spirit and fire in their belly.”