M5s vs Ham & West Spaniards
Goals ( Alastair Whatley 3, Alessandro Onano 1)
by Alastair Whatley
The 5’s have enjoyed an up and down start to their season to date, a few defeats on the trot meant an energised squad arrived in the pleasing environs of Mll Hill School on a grey November afternoon seeking to find some goals and a big performance against league leaders Ham & West Spaniards.
Things started very well by the whole team arriving on time but unravelled shortly afterwards when the opposition goalie told us the pitch had been double booked with a school team. Joe Kelly is a man who knows people in all the right places and so he called the school via an inside access route. It transpired that the game would be happening but only after the current game meaning a 45 minute wait for ours.
Captain ST kicked into gear and delivered us of a fine GDN style warm up around the rugged grassy plains of the Millfield Rugby pitch. It was here that he delivered his address to the troops reminiscent of the battlements of Harfleur. There was some cheering.
Back onto the pitch and the teams lined up. Appearances might suggest that youth favoured the Spaniards, but the mighty Fives after some Andy Robertson encouragement had the edge and so it proved in the opening exchanges which saw ‘Gate dominant. Andy from the outset led the midfield superbly from the middle- Southgate balls and bodies seemed to overrun the Spaniards defences- Samir Ahmad showing some great skills opening up channels for the forwards to move into. It wasn’t long before a turnover from a Spaniard 16 saw Andy Robertson counter attack and find centre forward Alastair Whatley who wrong footed the goalie with a strike into the right corner. 1-0 to the fives.
Alessandro Onano soon popped up on the left wing and started causing havoc with some penetrating Italianate running linking in well with Will Hargrove behind him and James Marriott and ST in the middle- it conspired with Kiran Ghosh and Freddie Trathen being a menace on the ball and off to mean that balls peppered the Spaniards D. Alastair Whatley came in for the first of his various run ins with the opposition post and Captain ST soon stepped up after their goalie sat unreasonably on the ball. ST stood proudly behind the ball and then with great chivalry offered the goalie a confidence boosting save with his right glove. Scoreline still at 1-0.
Our defence at still point combing the talents various of Matt Mitchell, Rory Willmott, Nigel Knight and Joe Kelly were simply distributing the ball with clarity and control and any potential attacks were stone walled with the Willmott trademark Gandalf on a bridge. Joe Kelly was a menace down the right and fed some great balls across the goal mouth forcing the Spaniard goalie into various saves before eventually 5 minutes before half time- the ball came into the D through an Alessandro special for Alastair Whatley to lift it into the top right netting. 2-0 to Gate at the half way mark.
We expected a strong response from The Spaniards who threatened an armada of support on the Mill Hill balcony with their Vets arrived for the subsequent game- yet once again the Fives held forth with ST going close in some superb crisp exchanges with Alessandro and James – the end result once again denied by the keeper.
Yet gradually and still with the score at 2-0 the oppo began to exert some more sustained pressure. 3 successive penalty corners were dealt with with the trademark cool pads and loud voice of Jon Dann. Matt Mitchell had a very fine 2nd half and amongst a strong defensive line up deserves a mention in dispatches for his unimpeachable cool on the ball and stick to stick passing which helped Gate counter and some minutes later Alessandro broke free from the pack who found a delicious ball through ball on a well worked lead by ST who drew the remaining defender deep onto the goal-line then working a pass back to Alessandro across the left hand side of the goal who clinically collared the ball with thudding resonance against the backboard. The crowd groaned and the fives roared as the score looked set fair at 3-0.
As the half waned Freddie Trathen and Will Hargrove stepped up in midfield with sustained pressure forcing multiple PC’s none of which were converted, Spaniards operating some good defensive running- but in desperation at the threat of Jug avoidance Alastair Whatley whose relationship with the post continued well into the second half eventually leapt on a ball which had broken free and leathered it past the battle weary keeper. 4-0.
The game was then seen out with some tidy play and little threat from the oppo- yet it wouldn’t be a complete performance without our left back being given a green card for an offence unknown.
Without exaggeration this was a mighty team performance from a very strong team who made short shrift of a previously unbeaten team at the zenith of the league. MOM was Andy Robertson for complete dominance in midfield with support in the wings for Alessandro and Matt who bossed front and back respectively.