5As/Tankards vs OLs Scarlet

W 4-0

Scorers: James Findlay, Anand Shukla (x2), Chris Rouse

Todays match was the last in a 6 game series with Old Lought’s Scarlet team. A well contested series with the Southgate team holding a narrow lead with 2 draws, 2 wins and 1 loss going into this final game. With everything to play for Biffi lead the team in an inspiring pre match talk which focussed minds and charged bodies to give their all for the Southgate cause. The players took to to the field with determined concentration and a clear goal – to win.

OLs pushed back to us and it was clear that Antony in our Midfield was to receive some determined marking from the OLs players. Even with this pressure Antony bossed the centre of the pitch, receiving and passing the ball across the pitch. This ball distribution enabled a bright start for the Southgate team and with some accurate and pacey passing it wasn’t long before we were awarded an early short corner. Bifi let fly an excellent shot forcing a fine save from the OLs keeper only for Anand who’d injected the ball to pounce and drive the ball home. 1:0

Wayne at left wing was causing the defence all kinds of problems, his darting runs and sheer pace leaving players in his wake. Neil at right mid had en excellent game cutting out pass after pass, harrowing the oppo into turning over the ball before setting up the next Southgate attack. Chris James and Chris Gerard were worrying the defence with threatening attacks and shifting positional play, dragging the man markers all over the pitch. It wasn’t long before another short corner was conceded and Wayne stepped up to inject the ball. Bifi let rip another shot on goal forcing the keeper to parry the ball where Anand pounced, this time at the right post sending the ball into the goal.  2:0 A brace to Anand.

Brian at right wing proved to be on excellent form providing several exquisite lofted reverse stick passes down the line, getting in behind the oppo. It was from an attack down the right that the ball was whipped in across the goal where it was met by a back hand shot at the far post by the on rushing James Findlay. A Sampras like volley, the ball smashed into the back of the net. An absolute screamer.

A very strong first half performance and 3:0 lead at the break. 

OLs started the second half with renewed energy and a clear change in plan. They pushed much further up the field and increased the tempo of their game. It felt like a key moment, an OLs goal early in the second half would change the complexion of the game. Their attack had pace and drive, breaking quickly when the opportunity came to them. Biffi and Toby however were rock solid in the centre of defence. They appeared to have, at times, telepathic lines of communication when deciding who picked up the ball carrier and who, the man running through for the pass. Jez on fine form made his hallmark charging runs out from right back and Mark resolutely thwarting Old Lought’s attacks down our right flank and always on hand as an outlet from the back. On the odd occasion where OLs threatened, it was thanks to some resolute and sharp keeping from Nigel in the sticks that their pursuit of an early goal was thwarted.

Southgate rode the storm of early pressure and gradually turned defence into attack pushing into the oppos D. Chris James clearly had his stick clattered whilst attempting a shot on goal. Everyone stopped for the expected whistle which failed to materialise. In that moment Chris Rouse picked up the ball and turned with a narrow angle in the left of the D, drove the ball towards the far post and clattering into the back board. 4:0 

Southgate also had a short corner goal disallowed, the shot deemed too high and dangerous, even though it hit the back board.

Some very pleasing passing was displayed by the whole team and as the game went on the ball was fizzing across the pitch with more and more confidence as Southgate took control and possession of the ball. A very good team effort and a great way to finish the series. It must have been that Biffi team talk!

Southgate Win 4:0