Report by Mat Mitchell
After crashing to defeat against H&W Spaniards the week before, the Mighty 5’s knew that to keep the title dream alive, only a win would do against the leagues other H&W side, the Colts.
Skipper Dave Richardson won the toss, which thankfully put the late afternoon sun behind Southgate in the first half. With the sun shining and the pitch sandier than the Copacabana, a few beach towels for the subs bench wouldn’t have been out of place.
The sand pitch took some getting used to. The pace was slow, with the ball sticking and needing much more power to reach it’s intended target. Southgate started the stronger of the two teams and created a couple of decent chances that were well stopped by the opposition keeper.
The Colts were a mixture of experience and youth development, and it was clear they were a team that needed to be taken seriously. When given the space, their skilful captain was pulling the strings for them moving forward, supported by some tricky youngsters. The Colts forced a couple of good saves from stand-in keeper Sam Levene, whilst regular keeper Jon Dann was performing much more important heroics away on the Ukraine – Poland border.
With the sticky sand pitch and excessive dribbling contributing to a scrappy game, there were repeated shouts for Southgate to keep things simple and focus on making firm early passes. It paid off. Three or four quick vertical passes from the back sliced straight through the centre of the Colts midfield and defence, with James Marriot there to apply the finish from Alastair Whatley’s (fine) assist, to give the Mighty Fives a deserved 1-0 lead going into the break.
With the importance of this game reiterated at half time, Southgate started well after the restart. A good move down the right initiated by the excellent Arun, who was playing in an unfamiliar position at right-back, ended with skipper Dave Richardson in possession on the right-hand side of the D. Driving into the D on the angle, Dave, who absolutely loves an assist, appeared to be waiting for the chance the pull the ball back centrally for someone else to tap in. Instead, the goal opened up for him and the ball was coolly slotted into the far corner of the goal to put Southgate 2-0 up.
Somewhat predictably for the 5’s, a 2-0 lead means it’s time to close shop and invite some pressure. Colts were invited to do just that, with the last 5 minutes of the game becoming rather tenser than they should have been, after the aforementioned opposition captain smashed a ball high into the net from the top of the D.
Another 3 points in the bag and a return to winning ways, the M5’s now have 4 huge games to negotiate, with it looking like 4 wins required to challenge for both promotion & the title.
MOM Mat Mitchell, Alastair & Rory Willmott
DOD Alastair (again)