Complete dominance as M8’s shine at Bishop’s Stortford

M8 team photo by Simon Parker

Roughton 3
Collier (Luke) 3
Mather (Luke) 2
Whatley 2
Batchelor 2
Prior 2

Match Report by Alastair Whatley

15 goals scored, 14 of those by Southgate players. These key statistics reveal perhaps a one sided contest but less obvious is the rigorous team work and simple, good hockey played for large phases of a game played out at Hockeril College.

Stand-in skipper Whatley communicates seemed to elude some of his team as various kit issues needed ironing out on arrival at the pitch side changing rooms. Fortunately M1 manager and on-day M8 manager Simon Parker was on hand to lend steely looks and spare white socks to ensure the M8 were suited and booted to reasonable sartorial standard for the midday pushback.
The M8 is a development team playing in the 8SW Division of the East League and is often a real mix of youth, experience and enthusiasm. The team that assembled in Bishop’s Stortford combined elements of all the above with a scattering of star dust – the brightest of which a young Collier sportingly opted to sit the game out from the sidelines in respect to an opposition who struggled against the Southgate threat.

Luke Collier who has impressed on his return to regular league hockey this season continued his form with a goal within the first 45 seconds as a simple exchange through the middle led him to pole-axe the Stortford keeper and send the visitors an early goal up. Alex Prior followed suit within another 60 seconds with a vicious top D strike that beat the keeper for pace as the ball thudded into the left hand corner of the Stortford goal.

And the goals kept coming as Peter Roughton, Fin Batchelor, Luke Mather and Alastair Whatley all found their way onto the scoreline in the first half. Yet the goals themselves were not nearly as impressive as the tight passing and ball pace combined with off ball work rate and intelligent movement from our defence and mid-field lines.

Mark Mather provided more adhesion than 90’s super glue at the bottom diamond and connected the lines with steely precision and he was ably supported by Amar Johal and Luke Mather playing to his right and left. Providing width and attacking threat from the deep came Will Roughton and Aidan Commons who showed skill on the ball and solid defensive muscle. Special mention must also go to Stephen Gwynn-Jones who made his debut at centre back and put in a faultless 70 minutes marshalling his troops and completely nullifying the Bishop Stortford press.

9-1 at half time after a rare defensive lapse gave Bishop Stortford a glimmer of light in an otherwise completely dominant Southgate performance.

The second half saw Alex Prior brought back to shield his attacking powers from the defensive lines as Southgate concentrated on some half time tactics from the skipper. Luke Mather built on his first half performance and put in an inspired second half display charging the base line, winning corners, scoring goals and outwitting the opposition at every turn. As manager Simon Parker observed it was ‘very good hockey’ from a team that looked far more cohesive and organised than their rivals.

Highlights included two magnificent second half poaches from Luke Collier, a fine PC routine converted by Fin Bathcelor and some brilliant work up top from Chris Rouse. Neil Commons also had a faultless 35 minutes playing commandingly from the goal mouth.

5 more goals flowed and Alastair Whatley sealed the game with at the 14th Southgate goal in the very last second of the game- giving the M8 that rare feat of scoring in the first and last minute of what turned out to be a one sided contest where one team really showed up and worked for a well deserved 3 points.

Thanks to Chris Pearce for his work on developing some tactics that really worked on the pitch and to Mark Thompsett and Lewis Hollett for their pre-match intelligence briefings and to Simon Parker for being the best M8 manager ever to take to the sidelines.

The M8 now take a well earned break before hitting the A1 in style in the new year.

MOM was deservedly given to Luke Mather with Luke Collier a close runner up. Mentions also given to Pete Roughton for his hat-trick, Stephen G-J for his spell at CB and Alex Prior for two very good goals.