Match Report : Mathew Mitchell
Result : WIN 2-0 vs Chiswick
Goals : Whatley, Wedmore
With the sides level on points in 3rd and 4th place, Southgate M5’s arrived at Chiswick knowing only a victory would do in their pursuit of league title.
The scene greeting Southgate M5’s could not have been more different to the preceding week away at Imperial Medicals. As Southgate arrived onto the pitch, there was already a full squad of opposition, wearing actual kit, and warming up in a determined manner that warned the Mighty 5s this was not going to be an easy game. On the plus side, no horizontal driving hailstones this week.
As skipper Dave Richardson declared the Southgate warm-up was a ‘6/10 at best’, we were fortunate to have the returning Andy Robertson to top that up to a 10/10 with a now trademark rousing speech (a Robbo Rouser anyone?). Never has the huddled war cry of 1,2,3,4,5’s been shouted with so few mistakes.
Chiswick provided a stern test, pressed with gusto and had skilful players all over the pitch that could cause issues. The first half, however, belonged to Southgate. The opposition couldn’t handle the intensity and determination of Southgate’s pressing, with the roaming midfielders Luke Tullo, Adam Shackleford, Duncan Trathen and Andy Robertson regaining possession high up the pitch and causing problems in the Chiswick D.
The Chiswick high press would have caused problems on another day, but with Alesandro Onano and Freddie Trathen in great form at left and right back respectively, the M5’s were beating the press and forcing their way up the pitch from all angles. Southgate’s intense start paid off. Alesandro picked out Alastair Whately, who added to his impressive goal tally with a quick shot on the swivel.
The bruising encounter was paused multiple times in a stop start period of the first-half, as Mat Mitchell took a deflected ball to the head, Freddie Trathen limped off with a heel injury, and a Chiswick player lay prone in the D with a wrist injury following a Southgate Penalty Corner. Ice packs sportingly shared all round, the game resumed in frenetic fashion.
We didn’t have to wait long to hear the sweet sound of ball on backboard again. With a ball flashed across the Chiswick D, Duncan Trathen found himself at the back post and coolly finished to extend Southgate’s lead… or so he thought. The not so sweet sound of an umpire’s whistle slightly preceded the ball hitting the backboard, as Southgate were awarded a Penalty Corner, rather than a goal, by a sheepish umpire who failed to play the advantage after spotting a Chiswick foul in the build-up.
It was evident Chiswick had a goal in them, as the Southgate defence watched the ball fizz across the face of their own goal a couple of times. Not to be deterred, Southgate continued to search for that all important 2nd goal. The tireless running of wide forwards James Marriot and Quintin Wedmore paid off before the half time whistle. Quintin worked himself the slightest bit of space in the Chiswick D, and produced a wonderful low reverse stick finish into the bottom corner, leaving the Chiswick goalkeeper flat footed and his M5 teammates quite bemused. Reverse stick shots are a rare and risky business in the M5’s, an off target reverse costs you a jug in the bar. A sweetly struck reverse into the bottom corner?…. well it hasn’t been seen before.
2-0 Southgate – Half time
The first half was probably the most impressive half of the M5’s season so far, a combination of determined pressing and tackling, combined with some slick passing moves and sensible hockey decision making all over the pitch. As the equally determined opposition looked for a way back into the game, and Southgate looked to defend that lead at all costs, the second half was (somewhat inevitably) a gritty and dogged affair.
Rory Wilmott saw yellow early into the second half, which prompted a reshuffle with Luke Tullo dropping back to fill the gap in defence. Seeing how well Southgate coped with 10 men, Mat Mitchell quickly followed into the sin bin as soon as Rory re-entered the fray. Evidenced by the number of DoD votes received for that yellow card, many may have seen a clumsy and overtly cynical attempt to stop a Chiswick breakaway into the Southgate D. Hockey connoisseurs, on the other hand, would have instead seen a heroic defensive self-sacrifice that psychologically finished off Chiswick, who now knew they would not be allowed to pass at any cost. It was as good a third Southgate goal, that yellow.
The resulting Penalty Corner was well stopped, and Southgate spiritedly saw out the remainder of the game. Some classy and slightly more orthodox defending by Ivan Stark stopped Chiswick in their tracks on multiple occasions, and a fine save from Jon Dann with 5 minutes to go ensured there was no late drama to spoil Southgate M5’s fine form, which is now 5 wins in a row.
MoM was Quintin, for an all-round brilliant performance and a hugely important 2nd goal. DoD went to Mat Mitchell, for heading the ball and getting sent off, although it could be said that Rory’s absence from the bar saved him from taking the lion’s share of votes, and Alastair ‘questionable shower technique’ Whatley did well to avoid more nominations.