(report by Todd Lomas)
A 9 a side tournament on full pitches isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Add to this the wonderful May weather we’ve been having of intermittent torrential rain and a slightly sparse squad, you’d have thought that the tournament in St Albans was all doom and gloom. However despite all this, it was a good days hockey.
Our first 36 minute (12 minute thirds) match was against Cambridge City and with the help of our good friends St Albans we fielded the 9 men, 7 of Southgate’s finest and most available and 4 St Albans lads. With the format of the game being conducive to fast paced counter attacks it was an enjoyable first 3rd, with attacks from both sides, however Cambridge City’s well drilled 1s and 2s players were overwhelming and whet their blades first. The tournament rules were such that once you score a goal, the goal scorer can then take a ‘shuffle’ against the keeper to double the goal. Unfortunately, Akshay was beaten in this first shuffle.
As the game progressed, despite Charlie Rookes and Andy Fell’s solid center back partnership, the oppo started to get into their groove and make use of our lack of team synergy. Akshay came into his usual form and kept us in the running, with two shuffle saves that would make even Drew Burkin and Alex Williams shake in their boots.
Southgate came close a few times with Sam Marshall playing up top with Todd Lomas, however the final score ended a rather disappointing 6-2 (4-1 in regular rules without shuffles)
After a 40 minute break we took to the pitch again, this time to face a strong St Albans team that we have got way too familiar with in the last few weeks. Aided by a couple volunteers, Southgate shed first blood with a fantastic hit from the top of the D and followed up with a shuffle goal from a hit from the same exact spot. As the match progressed, the team started to tire and after some interesting umpiring decisions we conceded at two short corners, one of which, for the following shuffle Akshay confidently swatted away the attackers advance.
In the final third, despite Kabir and Ben’s best efforts in midfield, St Albans scored again on a counter attack, leading to Akshays final and most impressive diving shuffle save but unfortunately it wasn’t enough and the game ended 4-2