The M5As went in search of their first win of 2023 against Adelaide, who were sitting five points clear at the top of the table at the start of the day.
Pushing back with only 10 players, the M5As held their own during the early stages, and forced Adelaide on the defensive, with Oli Yaoz and Tom van Soest, in particular, working to find space in behind the Adelaide defence. It couldn’t last though. Adelaide are top of the table for a reason, and a blisteringly quick counter attack, and first time finish from the top of the D right into the corner of the goal resulted in a 1-0 lead for the away team. Restored to a full 11, the M5As came back, and a well-worked short corner (Nick Wood, slip to James Wood, slip to Simon Holmes) resulted in a slick goal for the latter. 1-1, and once again Southgate had the pressure, with Rob Ray, Chris Ray and Simon Holmes pushing Adelaide right back. Unfortunately another pacey counter-attack, and another first time finish from the top of the D saw Adelaide restore their lead, and start to take control. And then it was Southgate’s turn to counter attack successfully, with Simon Holmes winning the ball from an Adelaide long corner, finding Nick Wood, who then released James Wood into space. The goal keeper made a fine save with the first attempt, but the counter had been so swift that James Wood had time to pick up the ball and finish with the second. 2-2 at half time and finely balanced.
The second half settled into an familiar pattern of play. Southgate dominating possession, but getting crowded out in the D, with Adelaide breaking swiftly on a regular basis. Leon Flack, Michiel van Soest and James Findlay tidied up most of these, setting up a base for the Southgate midfield to work it up to the front three, but eventually the shooting opportunities came, and once again, clinical first time finishes from distance that wouldn’t look out of place in higher divisions made the difference. A third was added, then a fourth after a defensive error from Mark Thomsett, and then a fifth, when the game was being chased.
5-2 the final scoreline, but the M5As played better, and created more space and opportunities than in recent weeks. Adelaide are clear at the top and will not struggle in the league above if they keep finishing like they did this week.
MotM votes were shared around, but it was Simon Holmes who was the clear choice, for a fine performance and well-worked goal.