Match Report : Jon Huddleston
Result : WIN 4-2 Hertford 3
With two Sahas, two Garners and two Hargroves playing hockey in a deluge of rain, the Noah’s Ark XI, otherwise known as the 4As, ended the first half of the season on a vibrant note with a whirlwind of a performance against league leading Hertford. It was in truth a dominant game, aside from five minutes of madness early in the second half, the difference being the outstanding maturity of the players, young and old(er) in creating an unbearable amount of pressure on the Hertford goal.
Southgate 4 (Leo Garner, Scott Ramsay, David Wolffe, Guy Garner)
MOTM: Not voted for as so many contenders but captain’s prerogative awards it to Howie Wilson and Guy Garner.
4As started in lively fashion, pinging the ball around and across the team. Howie Wilson was particularly to the fore, getting the team ticking over and dragging the Hertford players out of position. At the top of the diamond, Guy Garner hoovered up the yards as he tore through the defence. It was no surprise that Southgate’s dominance led to a string of short corners. Will Hargrove was as dangerous as ever and it was only some stunning shot stopping from the young Hertford keeper that kept the scores level. Ultimately though, he could not keep it up and following a melee in the D after another Hargrove flick, Leo Garner stepped up with a cool flick into the top of the net.
Hertford 0 – 1 Southgate
4As talked about making the ball do the work and taking time to pick the right pass. Will rightly warned of the danger of switching off and the game quickly turning into a 2-1. So Southgate took this on board, starting trying to force the ball and promptly conceded two sloppy goals, the first a hodge-podge of a scrap in the D, the second an easy breakaway, that left poor Sam Levene with no chance
Hertford 2 – 1 Southgate
Earlier in the season this might have remained the score, but tonight Southgate were just too good to let the points slip. They riposted swiftly, a slick passing move down the right involving Jon Huddleston, Brian Cade and Samir Ahmad got the ball into the D where Scott Ramsay clinically swept the ball home. It was no less than Gate deserved and was a clear turning point, as Hertford slumped and Southgate soared.
Hertford 2 – 2 Southgate
Suddenly, Hertford lost their shape, relying on breakaways that were comfortably quelled by Howie and by David James, keeping the speedy the right winger in check. 4As rained shots on the goal and the penalty corners racked up. A cool strike from just on the edge of the D was skilfully deflected home by David Wolffe, quite the predator in the recent weeks, and a fourth swiftly followed when Guy coolly drilled the ball into the sideboard from a short, the lovely strike caught on camera by the ultimate clubman Alastair Whatley on the sidelines.
Hertford 2 – 4 Southgate
And so it remained, Southgate worthy winners, and looking increasingly threatening, having turned their season around from 1-0-5 to 6-1-5 in November and December.
Sam Levene, was a confident caller in goal, and stepped up when required. The defence of Howie, Jon, David, Sajiv and Charlie Hargrove was dominant, achieving the second straight game without conceding a single short corner. We were grateful for Charlie’s lungs all over the defence in what was a super performance. In Midfield, Scott Ramsay was his excellent combative self and pulled his man inside and out, Will and Guy formed a strong centre partnership and Brian did what Brian always does, adding calm and class to all he touched. Wolffie was all over the midfield, knitting the play together. Up front Leo was a class act, and Hertford could barely get a touch on him, Raj Saha provided the physicality and positioning to make defending uncomfortable – he has had an excellent first half of the season. Finally, we were happy to welcome Samir, who had a superb game on the right, always adopting dangerous positions and playing others into the right spaces.
Finally a word of thanks to Chris James, who has followed us all over Hertfordshire this Autumn, providing support and umpiring, to a fantastic supporter team on the sidelines willing us on, and to Alastair, who deserves the club star of the week for playing and winning in West London in the morning, arriving at the club to cheer on the 5As in the middle of the day and then trekking out to East Herts to manage, cheer and film the 4As, before hosting the club Christmas do in the evening – Chapeau cuckoo.
Merry Christmas all!