Match Report by Mark Thomsett
The M7s made the trip to Chiswick buoyed by their first win of the season against table-toppers Richmond, knowing that another strong performance and win would see them start to climb up the table.
Arriving with plenty of time to warm up and run through some drills, Southgate were instead met with a locked gate and a frosty wait for over an hour before the key was finally delivered, and the game could start, 30 minutes late.
On a surface that more closely resembled an ice skating rink than a hockey pitch, both sides struggled to adapt, with players in both red and blue taking tumbles and losing their footing.
Gradually, Southgate started to get control of the midfield and the match, with Antony Spencer (making a welcome return in his first match of the season for the M7s) working alongside Mark Mather to distribute the ball to Simon Holmes, Laurence Whyatt and Finn Batchelor who could then drive into the Chiswick half.
Chiswick’s chances were largely restricted to the scraps from Southgate mistakes on the slippery surface, but as long as the sides were even, Southgate had to play it steady, and the likes of Neil Murphy, Aidan Commons, Luke Mather and Neil Commons across the back were there to mop things up.
The experienced Chiswick defence were just about keeping the younger, and pacier Southgate attack at bay, but surely it would only be a matter of time before one of James Wood, Freddie Bachler, Amar Johal or Peter Roughton broke the deadlock.
It took some sharp thinking and commitment from Neil Murphy for it to happen, stepping up to play in Laurence Whyatt, with the latter serving up a chance for Peter Roughton to tuck away for a 1-0 lead before half time.
The second half needed more of the same, and Southgate continued to dominate, with Luke Mather and Aidan Commons becoming increasingly influential attacking from right and left back, and Finn Batchelor having a productive stint on the right wing. James Wood almost grabbed a second with a reverse stick shot that just missed the far post, as Southgate pressed for a two goal cushion.
It came from a short corner: Finn Batchelor following up his injection to tuck the ball into the the goal for his first of the season. A score that didn’t flatter Southgate.
At 2-0, Chiswick looked beaten, but despite the pressure, they held on without conceding any further goals.
MotM was shared between Mark Mather and Laurence Whyatt, for their control of the pitch and energetic running, respectively. The M7s head towards Christmas on the up.