Report by Jonathan Huddleston
Sometimes it is nice to enjoy a straightforward victory and the 5-1 defeat of Old Loughtonians was exactly that. Expertly led by Justin Edwards, who proved once again to be the ultimate clubman by dropping into goal following an unexpected withdrawal, Southgate started brightly, pinging the ball around and across the whole team, and never let up until the end of the match.
In spite of some stout resistance early on, and Will Hargrove’s best efforts to hit every item of the opposition goalkeeper’s kit, Southgate’s first goal was inevitable, and when it came, it was the result of an expert finish by Raj Saha, nipping in front of the keeper after Nigel Knight, imperious throughout, had cut through on the dead ball line.
This was followed swiftly by a beautiful dribble through the OL’s midfield by Guy Garner, who cheekily chipped the keeper for a lovely finish.
With the back four of Jez Lavy, Os Bate, David James and Jon Huddleston shutting down everything the OL’s attack tried to muster, and Justin calmly policing his area, Gate were worthy leaders at the break.
4as maintained their pressure into the second half and attack after attack beat down like the recent unseasonal rain on the OL’s defence. It was a pleasure to have Joe Soper running tirelessly in attack and the young guns Sajiv Saha and Cam Clayton-Smith battling hard and linking the play together.
Gate were rewarded with two lovely Hargrove flicks from penalty corners and a penalty flick from Garner following a foot on the line. Will also had time to show superb sportsmanship when faced with a penalty corner defence reduced to two as a result of cards and too many young players. Instead of striking an easy goal he played it off the sideline to resounding applause around the ground. Chapeau!
OLs’ one riposte came from a sloppy pass across the front of the D. It was a cruel blow for Edwards, who was powerless to intervene, and who, when otherwise called upon, was consistently decisive and dominant.
MOTM went deservedly to Guy for a fabulous performance, but Raj was a close second and at least five other players took votes for their performances.
With one week of the OL series to go, this felt like a decisive performance. Roll on next week!