Result : DRAW 2-2- vs Hertford 5
Match Report : Neil Murphy
With four games to go, the 5A ‘s stood in second place despite last week’s defeat as both Welwyn and Bishops Stortford also dropped points. This week we played Hertford 5’s who are fighting to avoid relegation and a good battle loomed.
For once we got off to a strong start with lots of possession and attacking impressively down the right with Fin, at right back, setting up a lot of play. One such move ended with an excellent finish by Yuvraj for us to go 1-0 up within 5 minutes. Our attacks continued to threaten and we sensed we could score more as we had earlier in the season against this opposition, winning 5-0.
Our midfield had good control and were winning the 50/50 balls, the attack moved well, spreading wide and driving into the D. Nevertheless, Hertford were in the game – a fairly young team, led by a very good centre-mid who steadily got more involved in the game. All Hertord’s breaks and attacks came through him and one such break saw them bearing down on Nigel in goal and a cool finish took us back to 1-1.
Somewhat taken aback by this goal, the 5A response was disorganised and we rather abandoned our use of the wings and played too much down the middle and failed consistently to complete our passes. So, although we dominated possession, Herford were always in the game and looked dangerous through their centre-mid.
Half time and time to reflect – we knew we had let our advantage slip – time to remind ourselves how to play. Determinedly we came out for the second half. But so too did Hertford. Their share of possession increased but our midfield, led by the excellent Antony, held their own and our forwards started to play some of their best hockey of the season – Yuvraj a constant threat, dropping back to pick up the ball, Sohan doing likewise and James and Ben providing great strength driving into the D. In midfield, Chris, Mchiel and Arun all stepped up the game and got stuck into what was becoming a feisty game. Hertford played everything through their centre-mid and we lost some of our composure and control. Hertford won a series of short corners, repelled by our defence time after time but we were more than a little too scrappy and undisciplined.
With 15 minutes left, another Hertford short corner and a back stick saw Hertford awarded a flick – upstepped, yet again, the centre-mid to leave Nigel with no chance. 2-1 down but this galvanised the 5A’s into action, spurred on by Antony’s demand to engage our hockey brains.
The rest of the game was dominated by Southgate attacks, piling pressure onto the Hertford defence. The odd Hertford breakaway dealt with by our defence, leading to another wave of red and balck attacks. Something had to give and eventually, with three minutes remaining, a goalmouth scramble ended with Antony putting the ball into the back of the net. 2-2, Hertford were not happy, Southgate and our record attendance of supporters (at least 6) jubilant.
The final whistle, we had salvaged a draw in a game we really should have won but an enjoyable, close tussle. Thanks to Simon Parker and Biffi for umpiring this feisty encounter and both seemed to enjoy the post match chats with the oppo whilst we scuttled off relieved to get a point.
Man of the Match was a close-run thing between our two best players and two goalscorers on the day – Yuvraj and Antony – Yuvraj narrowly won the vote. Nevertheless another proper team effort and yet again our combined guts and determination in the second half led to a goal.
Our rising Dutch star, Michiel, was a stalwart in midfield but, sadly, suffered a broken finger for his efforts. Hope to see you back soon, Michiel – we’ll miss you.
Other results went our way with Welwyn getting a draw and Bishop Stortford losing, so we stay in second place. Next week though we are off to runaway leaders West Herts for a big encounter – determined to show them why we are worthy of second place – game on for a tough one!