The last few league weekends have seen the 4As playing some great hockey yet falling to narrow defeats that didn’t justify the quality of hockey that the team has been producing.
Finally, the spell was broken as the team ground out a gutsy and mature display to see off high-flying Sandy and return to winning ways.
Playing the early slot on the Water pitch in atrocious conditions (the best description I can give of the rain is ‘horizontal’), 4As set a good tempo, Andy Robertson and Will Hargrove dictating the play and looking for quick and penetrating balls through the opposition defence. Flanked by the outstanding Fergus Comrie and Simon Holmes, it felt like a case of when and not if. Up front Zac Mistry tied his markers in knots and the welcome return of Raj Saha added the physicality and energy that has been missing recently.
Shorts, chances and near misses swiftly followed but it became clear that the Sandy team knew what it was doing and their hardy and experienced defence repelled it all.
It was therefore disappointing to see that it was Sandy who scored first, a cute ball across the D being deflected in after the centre forward had slipped his marker.
Gate were a little unsettled and this led to a couple of shorts that were ably handled by Fin Sheridan-Licata and his defence.
This proved to be the wake-up call that was needed and Gate upped their effort again, pressed forward and, following a mazy dribble, Zac kept up his recent excellent form and slotted home the equaliser.
Gate pressed on, with even skipper Jon Huddleston making a couple of forays into the opposition D, but couldn’t quite make the pressure count Half-time 1-1
4As were resolute in their intent lot to let this one slip and came out firing in the second half. As Sandy tired, Gate mounted relentless pressure. Ferg owned the right flank and was a constant threat, linking well with debutant Tom Van Soest, who showed a lot of potential. Gate were fortunate to have the cool head and skill if Ali Priestley , who came on and marshalled the build-up play, and the Gate defence was superb, Antony Spencer, James Rushton, Jon and Mihiel Van Soest allowing nothing bar one ball across the D and a deflection that Fin expertly marshalled.
With Sandy neutralised and becoming increasingly frustrated, Gate pushed on and got their reward when Zac slotted his second from a melee after a short corner.
It was no less than they deserved and the final 10 minutes were maturely handled to secure a much needed three points.
This was a terrific all-round performance and everyone contributed superbly. MOTM was Zac for a superb double and constant threat, narrowly edging out Fergus, with mentions for debutant Tom and Ali. That Andy Robertson didn’t get a vote is quite frankly scandalous as he was immense.
Gate will hopefully now push on to Luton next week, with the promise of a brighter future (and skies!) ahead