M5A’s continue to rack up goal difference to ensure comfortable 5th place heading into Christmas break.

Match Report : Neil Murphy

Result : WIN 5-1 vs Letchworth 5

After a stirring, emphatic 7-2 victory last week, the 5A’s returned to Trent Park for the final encounter before the Christmas break, hopeful of another display of positive Southgate-style hockey against Letchworth 5’s, lying just one place below us in the table.

A different line up this week with a number of regulars absent particularly our midfielders, Daniel, Antony and Os, who have been the driving forces behind our recent performances. We welcomed, therefore, Shamit and Laurence for the first time this season – seasoned performers to help guide us through the game. How would this new line up settle into the 5A’s unique style of total hockey? Would they adapt to the 5A’s or would 5A adapt to them?

Some questions are difficult to answer… but we were 1-0 down after five minutes and played one of our poorest halves of hockey for many weeks. 
We looked off the pace and made too many unforced errors. That said, our resilience started to emerge and we worked our way back into the game. Nayan linked well with Shamit at centre-mid, Sohan and Yuvraj both made their presence felt upfront causing problems for the experienced Letchworth defence and winning short corners. The last ten minutes of the half saw the 5A’s string some passes together and first Sohan calmly slotted the ball home before Yuvraj completed a trademark finish to take us to 2-1 up at half time.

Stern words at half time to up the effort, play for each other, move the ball wide and close down the Letchworth 16’s were delivered. The start of the second half suggested the message was received and understood. The midfield, directed by Shamit, started to dominate with Fergus, Chris and Ollie increasingly dangerous and moving the ball wide for Laurence and the forward line to attack the D. More short corners and forays into the Letchworth D would surely lead to more goals. Two penalty flicks were superbly executed by, firstly, Fergus and then Yuvraj to make it 4-1 and then the best goal of the game with a great run and cool finish by the impressive Nayan.

Final score 5-1. Two goals for the second week running for Yuvraj, looking increasingly confident and threatening in the oppo D, together with Sohan, Nayan and Fergus – the average age of the goal scoring forwards being significantly less than that of our defence and midfield – well done the youngsters.

The second half was a massive improvement on the first and won deserved praise from Shamit for those who stepped up.  The subtlety of our play occasionally evaded the scrutiny of, possibly, our largest crowd (Alastair, Jatin and Yuvraj’s dad) of the season – but all three of them  were impressed with the comeback.

The defensive cohort were dominant in the second half with any Letchworth attacks quickly rebuffed and setting up many attacking forays down the right thanks to Laurence or through the middle via Michiel or the left with Giles. Justin combined his defensive duties with generously helping the umpires with their decision making (warming up for his turn to umpire the Magnums/IG match afterwards).

A good team effort was reflected in the wide range of Man of the Match nominations with Fergus, yet again, taking the honours but noteworthy performances and mentions for Laurence, Nayan and Yuvraj.
A good way to end the first half of the season. After a very sticky start our last seven games have yielded 5 wins, one draw and one defeat to leave us on 19 points, 5th in the league having played a game less than all the teams above us.

Our young players have been impressive in their development, the Back to Hockey group get better and better and the midfield line up regularly show they are as good as any in the division. Much to look forward to in the second half of the season – starting on 15th January against St Albans and a chance to avenge a poor 3-1 defeat OR possibly earlier if our postponed fixture v MBDA is rescheduled.