EH U18 Boys National Championship vs Old Loughtonians

Result: 5-2 Loss

 Match Report (by Joergen Jaehnig)

Having won the last round in heart attack fashion needing strokes, Southgate U18 Boys faced a trip down the road to local rivals Old Loughts in the next round. With the opposition seemingly having loaded their team with a few “guest players”, we had decided to bring our own secret weapon: M1s coach Mike Williamson. He immediately set to prep the boys for what most likely would be a highly contested match, whilst Old Loughts appeared to be busy doing a round of names to get to know each other.

From the off the Southgate defence was under pressure from the aggressive Old Loughts press – no surprise had the hosts fielded 2 England U18 players and a further 6 PC players. However, the backline stood strong around their own PC playing centre back wall of bricks Sam Marshall and Lucas Jaehnig, flanked on the left and right by speedy Sam Ziff and Josh Chandler.  Eventually though the hosts managed to pull ahead 2-0 through a break away goal and a penalty corner – none which deserve any further mention. Realising that attack may be the best defence, our boys started penetrating the opposition defence themselves. Some smooth passing through the midfield line ended with Noah Lavy having the ball in front of the keeper – he selflessly decided to square to Barney Collier who slotted home on the reverse. 2-1 and Southgate was back in business sending a strong statement to Old Loughts that we weren’t going to be pushovers. On the follow, every inch of the pitch was contested with forwards Jack Levene and Ruben Straat hunting down their defenders, midfielders Tom Murphy, Jackson Trathen, Matt Crow and Barney Collier jabbing, harassing, tackling, and slowly but surely starting to dominate the midfield line – the latter even taking up the role of umpire liaison if and when required.

Southgate felt an obstruction decision should have gone their way and in the resulting indecision Old Loughts quickly broke to score – the first shot of the England U18 centre forward was brilliantly saved by GK Tom Fish, however he had no chance on the rebound. 3-1 at halftime but all still to play for. That was also the inspiring message from coach Mike during the team talk together with some cunning tactical adjustments to keep the opposition’s class at bay.

Q3 of the match ended with a draw – Old Loughts went 4-1 up with a goal the author of this match report cannot remember (it was probably not worth it) and Southgate pulling back to 4-2, the latter arguably being the goal of the match, if not the season. Some clever passing ended with Noah Lavy dribbling along the left baseline and passing back to Oscar Prior who, picking up on his reverse, lifting the ball into the air and completing a 180 degree spin Torvill and Dean would have been proud of, then volleyed the ball into the back of the goal.

Freshly energised in the blistering heat thanks to some rocket ice lollies organised by team manager Sarah Jenkins, the team threw everything forward in Q4 trying to turn around the match and equalise. The match continued to be fiercely contested with green cards freely flowing on either side, however ultimately Old Loughts showed their class and put a lid on the match a few minutes from the end making it 5-2 as the final result.

To summarise, the team played their socks off and displayed some quality hockey in the match keeping it open for most of the game. Credit to Old Loughts though – despite the ever so slightly biased match report – who deservedly made the next round. Finally a thank you to travelling umpire and dad Neil Prior, team manager Sarah Jenkins and last but not least also a massive thank you to Mike Williamson for coaching the team this season and preparing them meticulously for today’s mission.