Match Report by Alastair Whatley
The Mighty Fives held on for a commendable 2-0 win against promotion contenders Harrow as rampant rain storms battered Trent Park on Saturday morning.
A strong 14 players turned out for the 5’s led by skipper Jon Huddleston who masterminded the defensive rearguard with stalwart Andy ‘Robby’ Robertson joining forces with returning player Barney Collier in midfield.
Immediately Southgate imposed their game on a sleeping Harrow who fallow at the early hour allowed a succession of PC’s well saved by their keeper. The pressure continued as You Ito distributed cleanly to the mobile forward line using his half backs Jo Soper and Arun Solanki to good effect linking with the agile Jai Martins and Samir Ahmed to build simple connections which saw the ball bouncing between the lines like a warm up between Venus and Serena.
It was the white shoed, fully vocalised firefighter Mitch Read who broke the deadline with a shot from open play, flicked hard and high past the Harrow keepers gloves making a dent in the goal netting and livening up the Men’s 3’s warm up pitch-side.
Ahead and perhaps tiring, the 5’s then somewhat turned off the tap of hockey hutzpah for the final 5 minutes of the half allowing Sam Levene to get into the game between the Southgate sticks holding firm against some sloppy Southgate play- his saves and firm control of his D began an excellent performance.
Half time saw Robbo and Jon inpsire their charges to get back on the front foot and drive home the advantage earned in the first 25 minutes.
Kyle Shah and ‘ST’ Richardson were leading hard stacking up high with the winsome Whatley before receiving wide and bringing in the midfield for some fine overlapping play which saw immediate results as circle entries became as percussive in their frequency as a Rachmaninov overture.
It was Whatley who appeared to break the deadlock in the 53rd minute as a fine threaded ball from Jai Martins saw the eager forward shoot into the Harrow keeper’s pads before on rebound and on his knees as if before his maker thrusting the ball over the line. Celebrations ran out reverberating down Snakes Lane*.
The final third of the game saw sustained pressure with corner after corner awarded, the 5’s just missing out when a rebounded ball fell to the Captain on the left post who first time unleashed fury only to be rebuffed by cold concrete. Collier followed this with a fine run down across the left channel into the circle putting across a hard low reverse across the back post to be met with the sound of silence as the ball inched past his forwards sticks- perhaps unaccustomed to such consummate delivery in London Divison 4 North West.
Arun Solanki in his return to the side worked like a Spartan racking up the miles and worked well alongside Ito and Soper across the back. Mitch Read thought he would liven things up by earning himself a sit down and allowing Harrow to sow the seed of a come back with their own parade of corners drawing exceptional saves from Levene keeping his team with their noses in front.
It took until the final 120 seconds for Collier to convert a slipped corner routine, bashing home the ball and with it the game as Gate held firm for the remaining time until Umpire Berndes blew her whistle on a fascinating encounter between two strong teams.
Thanks to Jo and Tony for fine whistling. The 5’s meanwhile take a well earned break before going again on the 4th November against Hampstead & Westminster at the Mallinson Sports Centre.
* May not have been a goal.