The 4s found themselves at Chiswick for the face-off against Barnes 2, a newly promoted team that managed to snag victory in both opening matches of the season.
The haunting memory of a hefty defeat in the home derby possibly still lingered in the minds of our lads, who kicked off rather tense and failed to orchestrate the game. The hosts seized the opportunity, controlling the game and pressing high looking for an early lead. However, Alex, David, and Scott didn’t share their enthusiasm and thwarted any adversarial ambitions; and on the rare occasions the adversaries ventured into the area, Sam in goal was there to shoo away any danger.
The goal came in a farcical situation: the referee called a foul that to all 22 on the field (the ones in shorts) was in favour of Southgate… but his arm pointed the other way. The Barnes striker cleverly noticed and seized the moment, took the free kick swiftly with the 4s caught off guard, and served his mate in the area who, unhindered, sent a shot towards the goal which, aided by a deflection of Alex, beat the blameless Sam.
The goal didn’t seem to rouse the red and blacks (in white, today), but the match trudged along similar lines as before, and the first half would have ended thus if not for the Hockey God deciding otherwise: the referee awarded a short corner and simultaneously the end of the 1st half. What a juicy opportunity for Richard, who skillfully picked up the goalie’s first save and netted the 1-1.
The second half was a different game… much more even with Southgate beginning to maintain ball possession, constantly putting the adversaries under pressure, and creating dangerous actions. The goal, in reality, was almost fortuitous: Burns Jr. entered the area on the right and sent a pass towards the centre. The goalkeeper, reading his intentions early, moved to intercept the ball, leaving the post unguarded… his misfortune was that the pass was askew and instead of going straight as intended, it ricocheted directly into the net for the 2-1.
The deficit revitalised Barnes, but Southgate defended orderly, even when at a numerical disadvantage due to the green cards to David and Angus, and indeed posed a threat on several occasions. There would be chances from both sides (one a glaring miss by Barnes) but the match closed at 2-1 after the 3 minutes of injury time granted by the referee (something of an oddity on a hockey field!!).
6 points in 3 matches for our lads… a good average to face the upcoming challenge against Richmond 3 with confidence.
MoM David James (Defender, left back)