Taking star billing on the water pitch, the 5A’s assembled for Game 5 of the season with two wins and two narrow defeats to date. Letchworth are always a tough opponent but with blue skies overhead and a packed balcony, there was a quiet confidence about the team who are settling into a regular formation.
This week we had two debutants; Akash Dhana and Aidan Commons. Aidan, joining his Dad, our goalie, Neil, to be the fourth father/son combination in the days team and the fifth of the season so far. Akash, after scoring for Tankards last week, is following in the footsteps of brother, Sohan, a 5A veteran and now 4A goal machine.
There was youth spread across our line up (interspersed with more than a little experience), Aidan and Alex in defence, Rafi, midfield and up front Tom and James. Our midfield stalwarts and playmakers, Woody and Antony, were primed to control the game.
The game got off to a fast start with Southgate largely dominant but Letchworth breakaways meant that our defence were soon mopping sweat from their brows as temperatures passed 20 degrees. Cool under pressure our youthful right and left backs, Aidan and Alex, consistently turned defence into offence.
On 17 minutes, the second ‘Gate PC resulted in an Antony Spencer goal, not for the first time this season. Lifted by early success, some good attacking hockey followed from both wide right (James and Fin) and wide left (Tom and Rafi) and popping up in front of goal was Simon Holmes to bag his first of the season.
Two – nil at half time was about the right score but a fairly open game and Letchworth had shown enough of a threat to tell us that they would generate more chances.
A halftime lead of two goals can lead to complacency but not this time. The second half provided even better hockey from 5A and an impressive level of skill and hard work from the younger players. More attacks from Letchworth but stout defence from Alex, Aidan, Giles and Michiel consistently led to the next Southgate attack. The midfield was increasingly efficient with attacking threats constantly from Rafi and Fin, together with the now familiar calm control of Antony and Woody. Rafi was particularly impressive on his first start of the season.
Our third goal was the result of excellent play, starting from the back, using the width and the finish of a rapier like shot from Rafi. 62 minutes played, 3-0 up, game over surely? And yet, although the score remained the same, that third goal seemed to galvanise Letchworth who repelled our attacks and consistently countered. But this was Southgate’s day and the defence was not going to be denied a clean sheet after conceding late goals and, therefore points, in our two previous games.
Man of the Match was deservedly awarded to Rafi for a hardworking, constantly threatening performance in midfield closely followed by debutant Aidan.
An excellent performance all round, the squad is taking shape but a tough test lies ahead next week as we travel round the corner to take on Southgate Adelaide who top the table with five out of five. Come on 5A’s, we can do it…..to be continued….