M5 put on exhibition to deliver victory against league leaders Hampstead

5s Believe. 5s Win.

Match Report by Andy Richardson
Result 8-3 Win

Hampstead and Westminster Thirsts arrived at Southgate undefeated and top of the table. The 5s arrived with belief and some new shower gel and shampoo (courtesy of the club secretary). Absent from the 5s was skipper Jon, who had passed on detailed tactics to stand-in skipper Robbo. As is now tradition, these were ignored.
Pre-match preparations involved half the team helping out the 8s, with Alastair’s two goals putting him on a hat trick before our game had even pushed back. But, more critically, the match was upgraded to the water pitch as Neil Prior clearly had a premonition of the feast of hockey that was shortly to be on show.
And so, the 5s lined up with confidence and with the team shout (the imaginative “1, 2, 3, 4, 5s!” for the uninitiated) ringing in their ears. Unfortunately, the heavy rain disrupted the 5s trademark slick hockey. H&W put on the pressure, earned a penalty corner which they converted at the second attempt.
As the rain subsided the 5s built themselves into the game. Waqas picked up the ball for the first time and drove into the D, fed Mitch who calmly slotted the ball past the keeper from a tight angle.
A quick side line on the left by Dan ended up in the D with Sohan who had drifted across from the right. Sohan’s persistence after his initial shot was blocked was rewarded with the 5s first short corner of the match. Joe’s accurate injection gave Todd plenty of time to roll the ball into the bottom corner.
Having gained the lead, the 5s took their eye off the ball and allowed H&W to apply more pressure. Another short corner conceded, which was sharply finished after Sam’s fine save of the first shot. All square.
Time for the 5s to change up a gear. For the remainder of the first half, the whole team raised their game and took the match by the scruff of the neck. Sam was confident and untroubled in goal. Connor and Scott dominated at the back and were both available as the deep pivot when in attack. Raj tied up the left hand side and Joe rampaged up and down the right. Barney orchestrated the middle of the park, supported with energy by Dan and with classy touches by Sohan. Up front, the formation had naturally morphed from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 allowing us to put the cosh on the wobbling H&W defence. Mitch lead the line, whilst Alastair and Alex pulled the defence all over the place. Returning from injury, Waqas and Todd looked like they’d never been away. The stand-in skipper watched with admiration from the touchline.
Todd picked up a ball bouncing across the D, controlled it past the defender, drew the keeper and knocked it into the far side of the goal from a tight angle.
Waqas again drove forward, slipped the ball to Alex whose low-pace reverse stick shot bamboozled the keeper. The ball rebounded to an eager Alastair who calmly swept the ball into an empty net. Trademark fist pump goal celebration ahoy!
More great work by Dan on the left. He picked up the ball from a sideline hit and fired it into the D. Alastair had gambled on the near post. His luck was in. Evading his marker, in one swift motion he stopped the ball, smartly pirouetted and finished pass the keeper. From a tight angle. Another goal, another fist pump celebration.
Shortly after the half time whistle blew and the 5s retreated to our goal with our tails up. But the job only half done.
At the start of the second half, H&W signalled that they weren’t going to rollover. More pressure was applied and, after the 5s failed to clear their lines, the ball was rifled past a helpless Sam.
But the 5s weren’t going to be deterred. Confident, controlled hockey around the H&W 22 led to the ball being squared across the D where it was picked up by the marauding Scott whose cross was tipped home by Joe.
And then we get to the goal of the game … a confident, cheeky aerial from Joe along the right touchline was coolly taken down by Alex, two touches later he was in the middle of the D where he calmly reverse-sticked his shot past the hapless H&W goalie.
This was followed by the move of the match … Todd picked up the ball deep in our own 22 and lofted an aerial clearance down the left flank. Alex pounced on the opportunity, he outpaced his defender and crossed the ball with his signature diving reverse stick hit. He picked out Mitch perfectly on the edge of the D, whose shot past the advancing keeper went narrowly wide. The crowd went “ooooo”.
Moments later Mitch returned the favour – he powered into the H&W 22 and squared the ball to Alex, who fired his shot into the bottom corner.
Not long after the final whistle blew, and the stand-in skipper took great delight in a hearty three cheers for H&W Thirsts. Game over. Game won.
A thoroughly entertaining game to watch and enjoyable game to play in. The 5s played with skill and intensity, along with a ruthlessness in front of goal not seen before this season. Our pre-match belief was well justified. The most pleasing aspect of the day was seeing our young players take advantage of a core 5s line up bolstered by a few experienced returning players. A nod of recognition to Sohan, but man of the match went to Alex for a dominant performance up front.
Watch the magic with your own eyes here: