Match Report : Jonathan Huddleston
Result : Southgate 2-0 Bishop Stortford
After a series of games in which their industry has gone unrewarded, the 4As finally got back to winning ways with an accomplished and ultimately comfortable 2-0 victory over Bishops Stortford.
Stortford had the best of the early exchanges, their youthful forward line attacking in numbers, but the reformed central defensive partnership of James Rushton and captain Jon Huddleston held firm, ably assisted by David Wolffe, who was regularly pushing forward into good attacking positions and the ever reliable Sajiv Saha, who linked up dangerously down the right with Arun Solanki and Ollie Costelloe. In goal the superb Justin Edwards provided confidence and stability, owning his D and intervening expertly when called upon.
Eventually the team settled into a good attacking rhythm, the midfield tempo set expertly by the returning Will Hargrove. With Will pushing the ball through the channels, the attack of Phil Holbrook and Nayan Bhundia began to threaten the opposition.
In recent weeks, the 4As have regularly penetrated the D but been frustrated by rushed finishing and excellent goalkeeping and then caught with a sucker punch. For a while there was a sense that history would repeat itself as Stortford defended in numbers and trusted their capacity to score on the break. However, what made this performance different was an inner belief that things would finally be different. No-one epitomised this belief more than the excellent Raj Saha, who seemed to be all over the pitch, supporting the defence and driving the attack forward.
Although the half-time score was 0-0, Gate were full of confidence and expectation at the break, and a commitment to moving the ball quickly was instantly rewarded with a series of excellent shots from Nayan and Ollie and a string of penalty corners. From the third of these, Will put in a devilishly difficult flick and the left post man was unable to withdraw his foot in time. Will coolly dispatched the flick and Gate’s confidence soared.
With their tails up, the 4As launched an onslaught on the Stortford goal, Arun looking at times almost unplayable as he attacked at pace, constantly twisting and turning the flagging defence inside out. The second goal was inevitable and it came from Wolffie as he received a stunning pass from left back right across the D, turned the keeper and slotted it home from a tight angle on the right. Having suffered an injury early in the game, he had come back on the pitch as other players too went down to provide a target and the roar when the ball went in was louder than the cheering from the balcony for the Ladies 1s on the neighbouring pitch.
So a welcome 2-0 victory, a just reward for the efforts of the last few weeks. Here’s hoping this will provide the momentum the team needs as we look to establish ourselves. Next up is a tough match against table-topping Welwyn, but with the fight and commitment, and the new found belief, we certainly have a chance.
MOTM was resoundlingly awarded to the brilliant Arun, but there were many honourable mentions for Will, Raj, and the ever-impressive Sajiv.