Match Report by Mark Thomsett
The M8s made the trip up to Stevenage, and their hard work and commitment paid off, as they dominated across all areas of the pitch in a match that saw players demonstrate their developing skills and others make a welcome return to competitive hockey.
Right from the pushback, a solid backline of Robin Tullo, Nigel Spencer-Knott, Tony Mastroddi, Leon Flack and Mark Thomsett provided a base for many of the Southgate attacks and were rarely troubled in defence as the rest of the squad worked hard in and out of possession, harrying Stevenage and never letting them settle.
Anchoring the midfield in his first competitive match of the season, Anthony Spencer showed that he hadn’t lost his touch, allowing Simon Bate and Martin Christie alongside him to push on and drive at the Stevenage defense.
A flexible forward line that at various points of the match featured Randall Hyer, Luke Collier, Chris Gerrard, Martin Christie and Kieran Slorach repeatedly pulled the Stevenage backline out of position, and soon the good chances came.
Fine work from the fast-improving Martin Christie was rewarded with a short corner and from that, Simon Bate scored to put Southgate into the lead. The Stevenage goalkeeper was called into action several more times during the first half, meaning that Southgate hadn’t added to their tally when half time came. 1-0 was a solid start, but Southgate knew that they’d need to kill the game off early in the second half to deny Stevenage any hope of a comeback.
A couple of injury-enforced positional switches saw Randall Hyer drop into midfield for the second half, and he was everywhere: breaking up play, mopping up loose balls, and driving into the Stevenage defence.
Further goals came: one from Randall Hyer, and another two from Simon Bate to round off his hat-trick – fine strikes from the top of the D after good work from the forward line to tie up defenders. There was even time for Martin Christie to have a goal harshly ruled out – a goal which wouldn’t have been undeserved from a team and individual point of view.
4-0 it ended, with every member of the squad working hard and sharing the plaudits. MotM votes were split between two candidates – hat-trick hero Simon Bates, and the dynamic Randall Hyer, and it was the latter who took the honour, for his commitment all over the pitch.