Following on from the impressive dissection of Blueharts the previous week, the 4As faced up to the mighty challenge of league-leading Potters Bar.
For context, Potters Bar came into the game on a 13 game winning streak, held an 8 point lead in the league, and boasted a striker with 29 goals to his name this season.
Faced with this seemingly impossible challenge, Gate fronted up and produced a stunning team display, leaving the game with a 0-0 draw that could even have ended with a win. This performance was the epitome of what the team is seeking to achieve. An experienced adult core of 6 and no less than 8 junior players, playing to individual strengths and never giving in, put a seemingly impregnable team under real pressure.
A 0-0 suggests a game of little action. Far from it, this was a great game to both play and, I understand, watch too. However, rather than describe a series of moments, I will instead concentrate on individual performances.
Sam Levene was calm and decisive. He made one stunning save and controlled his posts. His calling was superb, marshalling the defence to track the super striker.
Steve Gwynn-Jones at left back was immense. He made every tackle and his distribution is becoming a real benefit for the team.
James Rushton at sweeper had a ‘sans faute’ display. He stepped in decisively at every point and ensured the defence knitted together.
Skipper Jon Huddleston tasked himself with silencing the striker. He was not allowed a shot the entire game. He also ran down thee short corners to relieve pressure.
Fin Batchelor added energy across the pitch playing in every line. He made some lovely tackles, one a thing of beauty as he cue-tipped the ball out of reach of the left winger.
Fergus Comrie stepped into right back but was a marauding presence, causing real panic and winning shorts at the other end of the pitch. It was a wonderfully mature display from one of the 4As star players this season.
In midfield Will Hargrove was everywhere. He is such a calming presence on the team and keeps everything ticking. A fantastic performance.
Alongside him, Ali Priestley added the guile and combativity to midfield and ensured the focus was entirely on going forwards. Since Ali joined the team in January, 4As have 5 wins and 2 draws – product.
Oli Yaoz in only his second game with the team was superb Confident in possession, he marshalled the left flank and linked up well with the attack while defending where necessary.
Aryan Chhaya, last week’s joint MOM, was once again a thorn in the opposition side. Intelligent positioning ensured he supported attack and protected the defence while Fergus marauded forwards.
Arun Solanki stepped in to cover a team injury at the last minute and was at times unplayable. His performance caught the eye of the opposition skipper, who felt he was the best player on the pitch.
Up front against a young and physical defence, the 4As might in earlier games have struggled, but with the mightily impressive Sohan Dhana leading the line, this was never the case. Clever and robust he led things superbly and was so close to giving the final killer ball to win the game. His insights in the half time talks are pertinent and positive. A great show.
Felix Rushton, along with Ali a January arrival, grows in every game. More robust, linking play and taking players on, he is having a great influence.
Finally, a massive shout out to Alex Prior. It takes a huge amount of confidence as an Under 14 to play at this level and it is quite something to make your debut against such a high calibre team. Alex was superb. Buffeted at times by the defence he gave as good as he got and his quick turns and eye for a pass were excellent.
Anyone could have won MOM yesterday but in the end the honours were rightly shared between the experienced James Rushton and the youthful Fergus Comrie. That is the 4As in a nutshell.
I could not be more proud of the 4As second half of the season. In spite of a lack of experience and having to cope with regular changes as our younger players rightly move up through the club as they develop, the team’s form would put us second in the table. The 4As rely on the selfless endeavour of an experienced core and what a core it has been. I cannot speak highly enough of my five ‘regulars’.
Our key purpose in the club is to build the future while enjoying our hockey and being competitive. Based on the performances of our juniors in a gripping and tough game, the future is very bright indeed.