The second half of the season has seen many points dropped in games we felt we should have won. Before this weekend, since Christmas, we have played 6, lost 4 and 2 draws. This from a promotion challenging first half season….!
And so we welcomed Shefford & Sandy to Snakes Lane believing that at some point the flood gates would open and all those attacking chances would convert into goals.
A decent line up with Pietro playing his second game and a big welcome back to Youvraj after a long injury lay off. A familiar, youthful forward line combined with experience at the back and midfield. Game on, as the whistle sounded.
Our welcome to Shefford & Sandy was possibly over-extended as we sat back and watched them play hockey for 10 minutes and allowed them a nice 1-0 lead. Very hospitable!
And then we woke up….
The next 25 minutes was all fine 5A hockey. The ball moving well, Peds controlling midfield and playing in the midfield and forwards, defence largely untroubled and Neil Commons to the rescue when needed. Some impressive stuff from Tom vS, Freddie and Youvraj, looking in fine form and stronger than ever in his first game of the season.
The combination of youthful skill, confidence, and playing some proper hockey got it’s just deserts 4-1 up at half time.
Goals from Freddie, Youvraj, Randall all followed some great build up and a well executed PC from Chris meant our confidence was high.
4-1 up was a fair reflection and, in true 5A style, there was an uneasy feeling about the half time team talk. The last few minutes had let Shefford & Sandy back into the game. We had to start again….
And start again we did, Shefford & Sandy quickly repeated the pattern of the first half and scored their second, 4-2 to Southgate. Still, not too worried though and we eased our way back into the match – dominating in midfield and attack, our young forwards making life very difficult for a decent defence. First Peter (he always scores) and then Freddie (second of the match) chalked up the goals. 6-2 up with a good 15 minutes to go. Surely time to serve up some stylish, free-flowing hockey….and that’s what Shefford & Sandy did!
Throwing caution to the wind and bypassing midfield with long balls to their agile forwards, Shefford & Sandy stormed back into it. Their third goal was well worked and a deserved consolation to what looked like a comfortable Southgate win. Fair enough but still they came…
6-4, they’ve scored another one! Five minutes left, all a bit too close for comfort. Shefford & Sandy were confident now, 5A’s were not! Another short corner conceded and a powerful shot blocked on the line by Leon… but a foot involved – penalty stroke!
The reds of Southgate couldn’t bear to watch but the whistle and the oppo told us it was a goal; 6-5 to Southgate and still a couple of agonising minutes to go – more of a lifetime than simply running down the clock. All the play seemed to be around our D – some strong, determined defence kept them out. A free hit just outside our D was thankfully followed swiftly by the final whistle. Relief all round for the Reds…the flood gates had indeed opened but at both ends. Nevertheless a momentous first victory of 2023 and it’s still only March.
When we were good, we were very good but the rest of the game frayed the nerves right to the end. The spectators got value for money and so did our goalie, Neil Commons!
Despite the final dramas, this was actually a good 5A display with our young players (Tom, Freddie and Youvraj) demonstrating what good players they will become. Man of the Match was Youvraj showing skill, strength and confidence on his first game back. Other notable displays came from Freddie with two goals and the constant threat of Tom, usually down the right wing.
Three games to go, lots to play for. Blueharts away next time.