A new look Southgate 5s played their first game of the season at home against a competitive Richmond on Saturday.
In a closely-fought but good-spirited and well umpired match that could have gone either way, the point of difference was a well-taken flick after the unfortunate Scott Ellis prevented a shot on target with a foot. For the rest of the game, both sides threatened an opening but resolute defending at both ends prevented any further scoring.
New 5s skipper, Jon Huddleston set out his high expectations for the 5s by promptly arriving fifteen minutes late for the meet after being held up at a School event. Although he later redeemed himself by a stunning clearance on the line of a head-height flick, he was rightly deserving of the DoD award.
Alongside the skipper in defence, keeper Sam Levene was immense, making some stunning interventions to frustrate the opposition. In the middle Luke Tullo and Scott Ellis were virtually impregnable and distributed the ball powerfully into the midfield. At right back Joe Soper was a constant threat, driving up the flank, from where most of the team’s best efforts came.
In midfield Andy Robertson made a welcome return with his coolness of touch and thought, and formed an effective double act with the excellent Mark Ellis, constantly transferring the ball between the lines. On the sides Fergus Comrie was a constant whirlwind of energy and was oh so close to finding an equaliser at the death, while Sajiv Saha brought an incredible deftness and maturity to the 5s play, dominating his opposition number. Raj Saha was simply immense, a genuine master of all trades who dropped into so many different positions to rotate the team and help maintain energy.
Up front, a couple of 5s debutants gamely kept up the pressure on the Richmond defence after regular striker Zac Mistry pulled up lame in the first minute of the match. Arun Sharma-Saul provided a regular outlet, while Kyle Shah harried and pressured the opposition, dropping into midfield to keep the ball movement flowing.
And this was the tale of the match – a lot of effort, a lot of energy, some really good movement and passing but ultimately just not enough guile to drive the ball home. There were definite green shoots in the performance and a sense of more to come. With a week off, the 5s have time to reflect and prepare for the next battle, ready to get their first goals and points on the board.
MOTM was deservedly awarded to Sajiv Saha, narrowly beating Sam Levene, for his all-round excellence – a great season awaits…