Result : WIN 6-2 vs StAlbans 8
Match Report : Neil Murphy
Back in the dark weeks of September and October the 5A’s lost three consecutive matches in comprehensive style to St Albans, Welwyn and Bishops Stortford – a long season lay ahead with a relegation battle looming…
What happened next is a story of human endeavour to match anything the pioneering Victorians ever tried – scaling the heights of East Division 6SW.
Dial forward to 19th of February. The weeks following the Christmas break have seen us avenge those defeats to Welwyn (2-1 win with a late goal) and Bishops Stortford (again 2-1 with a magnificent second half response to an abysmal first). Along the way we have won our games in style, enjoyed our hockey as a team and lost just one game since the middle of October.
Ahead of us today, though, is St Albans again and the need to put right that early season defeat.
Full of determination we were ready for battle despite the rain and remnants of Storm Eunice which conspired to detain one of our sturdiest stalwarts, Giles, in Cornwall or at least in a traffic jam on the M5 desperately trying to find a route to St Albans.
From the first whistle we were positive and mounting attacks on the St Albans D. Possession and passing, building from the back, attacking wide. It was looking good and true to plan (and what seems like every week) we went 0-1 down to a good finish. This time, however, our response was strong and swift and the story of the game began to unfold.
We conceded a second goal to a short corner strike but even that did not dent our ambitions and we turned round at half time with a 3-2 lead.
The second half saw our best hockey of the season, total domination but most importantly the quality of play was impressive. We were paid the ultimate compliment – the oppo though we had loaded our team with players from higher up but this was a regular 5A crew who have learned much from this season.
This, above all, was a great team performance but, as always, there were some excellent individual contributions. Yuvraj, gaining in confidence, played his best game of the season – a real threat in the St Albans D. Alex Christie was excellent attacking and defending from right back and his distribution down the right flank caused no end of trouble to the oppo – we need to see more of him in the Southgate shirt. Chris Ray and Daniel linked midfield and attack to great effect.
It’s not all about the youngsters though. Os scored two well timed short corners to polish off a very impressive performance. New boy, Costa, adjusted remarkably easily to 5A’s hockey, added much to our organisation and kept left defence under tight control. Upfront, Tony Mastroddi guided our younger forwards, was always available to receive and scored a neat goal in the second half and almost had another with a well struck reverse hit – a rarity in 5A hockey.
So the final tally was 6-2 to Southgate. Two goals from Os along with Tony, Yuvraj, James Findlay (as usual, but this time with a great shot from the top of the D) and Daniel. A MoM tie between Costa and Yuvraj but there were several candidates – this really was a team performance.
The end result is that we have gone from the depths of the relegation places in October to leapfrog both Welwyn and Bishops Stortford and now sit in second place in the division albeit well behind runaway leaders West Herts. A long way still to go this season but it has been a blast so far….Blueharts next week.