Result : Mens 4s 0-3 Chiswick 2s
Match Report : Alastair Whatley
The Linford Christie for the uninitiated is an experience. Crammed behind the looming presence of Wormwood Scrubs in the less salubrious environs of Acton and found by a labyrinthine maze of one way roads leading it seems ever onwards into the hinterlands. Arrival is a little anticlimactic as the former glories of this once proud athletics track is perhaps now rather less redolent of it’s name sake but nevertheless is still home to an all purpose football cum hockey pitch sandwiched out the back behind the runners circling the track and the 5 aside footballers strutting their stuff on the astro small astro pitches either side.
Captain for the day Kabir Bowry greeted us all in a lovely shade of Southgate red tracksuit top and embued us with spirit and optimism. A new press, tighter formation and a welcome addition of new recruits all buoyed morale as Lucca Bilyard got down and dirty on the athletics warm up track leading the GDN warm up liked the chiselled professional he is.
To the pitch we went firm of purpose and cutting a dash in our red shirts as Chiswick lined up in their bold aquamarine blue and as the Southgate sticks met in the middle for a pre-match huddle and shout we were exhorted by the senior players to go out hard and strong and compensate for the pitch which would be slow and unyielding. We lined up, Wayne Garner was on the sidelines wearing his Southgate hat and it should be noted he looked keen as Colemans mustard.
The whistle went and so did the 4’s who pretty much immediately found themselves somewhat on the back foot. Our defence unable to escape a strong press in the first 10 minutes and we were kept in the game by some doughty saves from the lithe and athletic presence of Veysel Demir who kept the score line even.
Up front making his 4’s debut was Alastair Whatley who began racking up the miles and eventually found his way onto a ball laced like a fine silk thread through a needle by the elfin hands and deft footwork of Kabir Bowry- the Chiswick keeper rushed out as Whatley met the ball but his touch didn’t match his enthusiasm and the chance went past the left post. Someone groaned. Possibly Lucca.
Joe Kelly started exerting his influence down the right and began linking in well with Guy Garner and Angus Burns in the middle, but Chiswick proved pretty strong on the ball and off and too many turnovers were being given away. A couple of short corners later and a lame ball seemed to glide past the stricken Veysel as if almost in a slow motion dream. Chiswick roared, Wayne groaned and Southgate were 1-0 down.
The second goal came 5 minutes later and saw SHC guilty of just hanging onto the ball too long allowing the Chiswick press to turnover the ball down the left leaving Veysel 1-1 with their centre forward who found a cool and clinical finish to send the blues 2-0 to the good and Southgate needing to find response to stop the game sliding away from them.
Some stronger play came in the final 10 minutes of the first half, better distribution and patience off the ball demonstrated well by Alessandro Onano looking every inch the Italian international finding space on the left and Lucca Bilyard beginning to boss the midfield. Mitch Read looked dangerous at the top of the D and just couldn’t find the target on some reverse whacks to goal, our short corner routine also looked solid despite the pitch causing some grief for the injectors and stopper. Southgate easily had goals in them and Leo Garner was just shy of a fine right post tap in crossed in from the left.
Then fate came knocking with hammer blows to the Southgate cause as a disputed aerial then led Veysel again 1 on 1 with another Chiswick forward who he met and took both ball and player and saved an inevitable goal only to judged in breach of a foul challenge. The umpire awarded penalty flick to some firm remonstrations from the Southgate contingent. Whatever the rights or wrong, the flick stood, it was slotted home and by half time Gate were down by 3 goals.
Kabir led a positive team talk and the SHC boys came out in determined fashion and began to dominate the second half, the defence found their groove with Josh Chandler and Will Biggins unravelling the Chiswick press like a denouement from a Miss Marple novel, and up front Whatley, Garner, Read and Bowry exerted sustained pressure and turnovers enjoying frequent incursions into the Chiswick D. Balls began to hit keeper pads, posts and side netting with the frequency of a metronome. Kieron Ghosh found more and more confidence as the game went on and fed the hungry attack who just couldn’t get past a dominant Chiswick keeper.
Eventually a Kabir cross from the left goalie bounded up off a Chiswick player to be be whacked home by Angus only for the whistle to be blown for a short just before the ball slotted past the keeper. The ensuing short got trapped under Alessandro’s injecting stick and the momentum was lost.
Things then got a bit testy as Mitch got a bit cross and kept wondering aloud whether he had in fact been given a yellow card when it turned out that prize had gone to no other than supporter in chief Wayne Garner who was promptly sent out of the cage.
The game ended in fist bumps and hand shakes and some real positives to be taken away for a team showing real potential. Some earlier passes, better ball pace, more clinical work in the D and bit more confidence from the get go could easily have changed the result. Chiswick took their chances but we look forward now to the rematch at home on the water where Gate can show their free flowing clinical stylings and turn the tables.
MOM honours were shared by Lucca Bilyard and Alastair Whatley with Wayne securing the prize DOD for his efforts on the touch line.