Due to cancellations and postponements, this was only the second time that Tankards have taken to the pitch this season. A mixed line up of a few old hands, a few very old hands, and a clutch of debutants from across the age ranges meant that Bedford made the trip to play against something of an unknown quantity. From the outset, Tankards created more opportunities, with Akash Dhana, Sohan Dhana, Tom van Soest, Oliver Heaviside and Oliver Yaoz buzzing around the Bedford ‘D’, getting to the byline and causing all sorts of problems for the Bedford defence, and forcing several short corners. Some last ditch defending, fine blocks from the keeper, and goalmouth scrambles (Chris Gerrard almost capping his return to action with a poacher’s goal) just about kept Bedford in the game early on. Tankards didn’t have it all their own way though: despite Antony Spencer and Simon Holmes controlling the midfield, Bedford’s big hits from 16s always offered them the chance of a breakaway opportunity, and the Tankards defence of Nigel Dixon, Justin Edwards, Alex Holmes, Michael van Soest and Randall Hyer had to work hard across the back to maintain the clean sheet.
Eventually the Tankards’ pressure told though – and fine work from Akash Dhana was rewarded with his first goal on his debut appearance, as Tankards took a deserved lead. Things got better as the half progressed, with Sohan Dhana rounding off two good moves to push Tankards into a 3-0 lead at half time.
The second half saw the Tankards hold more possession and territory, but Bedford withdrew into their ‘D’ and the opportunities to get behind their defence with pace started to dry up. This was where the good running, energy, and smart positional play of back-to-hockey debutants Alex Blomquist and Lloyd Foster started to pay dividends, and opportunities continued to be created, the Bedford keeper again having a fine half between the sticks.
Despite the pressure, further Southgate goals didn’t arrive, and it was Bedford who scored the only goal of the second half – a well-finished consolation against the run of play with less than ten minutes remaining.
3-1 the final score, with fine performances all across the pitch, and multiple nominations for Man Of The Match. Alex Holmes and Alex Blomquist gathered a clutch of votes each, but it was Akash Dhana who took the final award – deserved recognition for fine running, unselfish play and a smartly taken goal.