The M2’s came into this crunch game with the West Herts M1’s looking to continue their rude run of form that has seen them firmly secured in the number one spot in the London Premier Division.
West Herts had started the season strongly but had endured a couple of poor results exposing cracks in their fault-lines which the Southgate team under captain Andrew Fell were looking to expose on a bright Saturday afternoon in the hinterlands of M25 junction 20.
With regular players wither injured, in bed or on honeymoon and probably in bed the 2’s offered a debut to new signing Chris Sleeman and a welcome return from the thrice retired Lum Chau who once again donned his red and black to enter the fray.
The first half went by in a blur, partly because it was full of sound and fury and partly because the manager was stuck on the M25 fresh from a game against Winchmore Hill and Enfield and unable to see any of it. The headlines involve 3 Southgate corners going unconverted, a string of cards and a flying Chau deflection to offset the sole West Herts goal.
Former lad and West Herts legend Simon Walker who had moved to Southgate this season in a transfer for Scott Ramsay was seen arriving for PB. Si came down and stood directly on the half way line to show his split allegiance and ensure he received minimal abuse from either side, before Felly made him time keep for Southgate.
The second half started strongly although Tom Batchelor pulled up with a hamstring and Lum after his goal was cramping like grandpa Jo. The 2’s went hunting for the fabled winning sausage with Sim Bird getting a couple of good chances that went into the car park. Harry Haynes proved a menace with his sonic shoes and forced some more corners which alas didn’t convert into goals scored mentioning no names, Louie Sadler.
West Herts continued to look dangerous on the counter and despite some solid work in defence by the social Will Shepherdson and Ollie Wickham two goals came in one from open play and the other from a PC, missing the post man in the shapely form of Dr Charles Rookes. This left the score 3-1 with 6 minutes to play.
Gate pushed hard, Sleeman doing well, Westwood working hard on and off the ball and Webby and Lewis Hollett doing their usual great work in the middle but despite another missed PC and sustained pressure Gate were unable to convert that into a tangible actual goal.
So the whistle blew on a testy encounter and the M2 first loss of the season. Some hard lessons, a quiet and frosty post match shower and no discernible signs of any social life in Watford will mean that the boys will be looking to bounce back like Beckham this weekend. Defeat once sampled is best put down to experience, the boys will go again and go better.