RESULT : M1 5 – 4 Cambridge City
by Alastair Whatley
The Mens 1’s had a strong finish to the first part of the season reporting a string of 3 point victories as well as nearly pulling of a big win against league leaders Reading in November. After a long lay off the Men were back to it on a frisky January evening away at Cambridge as both sides looked to carve away the last remnants of the Christmas break. (Cambridge) City play in the parallel north division of EH league 1- so a good match up and a nice test for the team.
Cambridge in their bright red shirts set off strongly and at first dominated the first quarter, Southgate sporting a youthful line-up including Veysel Demir in goal, debutant Tom Murphy as well as some great U18 players in the form of Deman Bansal and Giles Woodland as well as some late minute additions from the M2 (hats off Louise Sadler) took some time to settle and soon sported Cambridge with a penalty corner. The defence of said corner went awry alas as number one runner lost his knee pad and the ball from the Cambridge proceeded to collide with the very same kneepad sending past the prone paw of keeper Veysel. 1-0 to City.
Yet the goal galvanised the Gate men in white and what followed was 10 minutes of very fine hockey which saw 3 goals shipped past the City goalkeeper scything open the defence. Southgate dominated possession, built from the back with neat transfers and the Barrett long ball linking it all together. John Sterlini continued his form from the end of the season with some devastating attacks. The breathless first quarter ended 3-1 with Southgate well imposed on the game and looking strong.
Yet as the second quarter began, Cambridge began to edge back into the game through the ensuing minutes and slowly began to grind down the Gate press forcing some strong counter attack play- Iain Gordon and Robbie Gill both called into action making some key tackles to keep the scoreline at 3-1 which is how we went into half time.
Daman Bansall and Giles Woodland both put in a big shift with strong support from the wise hands (and legs) of Jonny Maunder and Guilio Ferrini. Tom Murphy put in some strong cross court aerials and Harry Haynes ran hard up front but for a time the ball could only find the pads of the CIty keeper. The game started opening up before the Cambridge goalie disappeared in what could have been a bold tactical move from the City coach (actually he had to get to his wife’s birthday party…). So City played the last quarter with 11 outfield which after a fine early goal from Harry Haynes running down the left channel to collar the empty goal with panache, saw City rally and recover to send two balls home against the Gate backboard. At this stage City were within 1 goal of drawing level and Veysel was being called into action with some strong saves from the goal line.
Yet on the counter Giles Woodland ended up facing an open goal and clinically put the ball home, much to the relief his Dad on the sidelines! City soon got back a goal and the last 3 minutes were played at a breathless pace as ‘gate saw the game off with some good possession hockey.
Special mention to Louie Sadler who came down at short notice having already played for the M2’s at home and despite putting in another big shift pulled up with a sore hamstring and also to Tom Murphy for a strong debut in the Southgate 1’s.
The boys have two friendlies this week against Ham & West and Old Loughts before the season resumes in earnest in February. Thanks to both teams for a good game played in the chilly Cambridge twilight, much to work on, but some big positives and good win to boot. Bring on the boys from Paddington Rec on Tuesday as we work towards the first league game against Oxford Hawks on Feb 6th.