Loss 3-5 vs Osterley M2’s

Match report by Mark Thompsett

The M7s kicked off 2024 by entertaining Osterley, in a match that ultimately resulted in a loss, but in which the M7s played some of their best hockey of the season so far.

Southgate started strongly, catching Osterley cold in just the first minute as Fin Batchelor finished smartly on the reverse into the bottom corner after some good midfield play. 1-0, and maybe the mince pies over Christmas hadn’t slowed the team up too much.

The match then settled into the pattern it would hold for the rest of the day: dynamic play at left back and right back from Luke Mather, Aidan Commons and Neil Murphy alongside strong midfield control from Antony Spencer, Simon Holmes, Will Roughton and Simon Bate, would feed the good running of Freddie Bachler, Randall Hyer, Peter Roughton and Fin Batchelor up front, all while Stephen Gwynn-Jones, Mark Thomsett and Neil Commons scrapped to snuff out the counter attacks, crash-balls and aerials of Osterley at the other end.

It meant that every Southgate player saw lots of the ball, many in advanced areas of the pitch, but Osterley’s defence held firm, defending in numbers to break up play. As Southgate searched for a second, Osterley increasingly resorted to balls pushed into the corners or using one player to carry the ball from deep on the counter attack.

The game started to get stretched, and against the run of play Osterley capitalised on a couple of defensive mistakes to level the scores. Still the game progressed in the same pattern – Southgate passing well, dominating possession and territory, but coming up against a packed Osterley defence, and again, Osterley scored against the run of play, 2-1 and then 3-1, a score that didn’t reflect the hard work and passing from Southgate.

As the first half drew to a close, the Southgate pressure finally paid off, with Simon Bate scoring with a fine strike to take the match to 3-2 at the interval.

The second half saw Southgate step up and press further for an equaliser, knowing that it left them a little exposed at the back, and so it proved, with Osterley running from deep and tucking away a goal to make it 4-2.

Chances came and went for Southgate, but finally it paid off when Simon Holmes and Peter Roughton combined well and the latter scored via a deflection to drag the M7s back into the match.

The Osterley defence and goalkeeper continued to impress in the face of wave after wave of Southgate pressure, and they were rewarded with another counter attack goal to seal the match, making the final score 5-3 to Osterley.

A entertaining match with lots to please the crowd watching on the balcony, but a scoreline that didn’t reflect the dynamism and pace of the Southgate play. Despite the result, there are lots of positives for the team to take into the second half of the season and further victories will surely come.

MoM was Antony Spencer for his anchoring role in midfield, with notable mentions for Fin Batchelor, Simon Holmes and Aidan Commons who all impressed, and for Stephen Gwynn-Jones making his debut in the sweeper position.