A mild Saturday morning welcomed the thriller of a matchup between Southgate’s 3rd XI and 4th XI. The 3s in crimson red and the 4s in pearly white, we were ready for an electrifying game. With both teams warmed up and an excited balcony awaiting, we were ready for pushback at a punctual 10:30 AM.
The 3s had a few good chances early on, courtesy of Will Wright and co, but the 4s mix of youth and experience at the back made sure that the 3s’ efforts were dealt with promptly. However, their efforts were seemingly not enough as around the 20 minute mark, a stray ball hit into the D from Will Biggins found the end of Todd Lomas’ stick with a remarkable deflection that left goalkeeper Akshay Palaniappan bamboozled who decided it was best to give Todd a lovely birthday present by allowing him to add a number to his impressive goal tally.
Although this was a setback for the 4s, they kept on fighting, winning a couple of penalty corners towards the latter end of the first half, but Ivan Stark and the 4s’ efforts were not enough courtesy of a couple of saves from Veysel Demir and his defence consisting of 2 of Southgate’s super U18s, shoe-in from the 2s Charlie Rookes and Aman (who is where he should be). Thus came the end of the first half, ending at 1-0 to the 3s and with few words exchanged between some opponents, the teams grouped together respectively to discuss tactics going into the second half.
And so the second half began with both teams riled up to make a difference to the scoreline. The 3s press was relentless, winning a couple of penalty corners early on in the half. However, efforts from Lucas Jaehnig and Will Wright were swiftly prompted by Andy Richardson and the 4s defence. However, a Charlie Rookes dragflick originally heading wide caught onto a loose red stick and straight into the body of an unbeknown David James which prompted umpire (usual 3s and 4s star forward) Mitch Read to blow his whistle and point to the spot for a penalty stroke.
There was quite some murmur as to who was going to be the chosen one to step up to take the stroke whilst pleas from 4s captain Alessandro Onano were swiftly dismissed from the umpire. Inevitably it was young starlet Jackson Trathen who made the decision to take the potentially pivotal penalty. With both goalkeeper and flicker seemingly ready for this moment, Mitch Read put his whistle to his mouth. Although flicker Jackson appeared to mishit the flick as he watched it dribble onto Akshay’s right kicker. Jubilation from the 4s and distraught from the 3s ensued, as this only boosted the 4s to believe that they could make a comeback from this point. The team behind yet again, had hope.
The now determined 4s brutally pressed the taken back 3s side, causing some frustrations to be let out, resulting in Jackson Trathen to be shown a green card for his efforts. This only drove the whites to keep on pushing for a goal as the minutes flew by and eventually their attempts paid off. With less than 10 minutes to go, the 4s very own super striker Andy Buckle picked up the ball close into the D and coolly dispatched the ball into the 3s net. The balcony erupted with excitement as everyone knew that these remaining minutes were about to be very exciting.
Attempts from both sides kept on firing at either goal, but to no avail. Leo Garner came close to putting the ball in from point-blank range for the home side, but the pass to him was slightly too quick from his teammate. Thus concluded a match for the ages, resulting in a final score of 1-1. Players went from opponents at each other’s necks back to being the closest of companions ready to partake in various drinking games (for those old enough) whilst everyone proceeded to enjoy a lovely day of hockey at the esteemed Southgate Hockey Club.