REPORT BY TODD LOMAS
After 18 games, some wins some losses, new players coming old players going and an all-round tumultuous season for the M1’s, the last game of the season was played on Sunday against Teddington.
At midday we gathered at Teddington School under some lovely April sun, ready for what we knew would be a great match and an even better end to the season. Due to numbers in the usual squad being low, call ups were made to Lewis Hollett and Todd Lomas who returned to the squad after his debut in Reading two weeks ago.
We started the game with the a real intensity that Teddington couldn’t answer. Their zonal play was too rigid and thanks to the piercing midfield play of Giulio and Sterlini, we found channels to play through. The play carried on in our favour, up until a ball from Giulio from outside the D toward back post for Charles running onto to slot into the goal to make it 1-0. Shortly after, with the bit between our teeth, Charles did a textbook carry along the baseline and zipped the ball across the goal for Sim Bird to deflect in on his reverse.
As the game progressed we had more and more chances. Our first PC went astray due to a loose twig from the local trees in the D, but the second was far from astray. With pinpoint accuracy we converted the PC following Matt Allister’s beautiful routine of dummy castle, slip across for a second stopper and Charles to drill the ball into the bottom corner to get his brace. At this point we were firing on all cylinders. The challenges of the season were behind us and despite not having perfect numbers to rest our legs, we pushed on. Our midfield of Giulio, John and Ando, who was playing his last game for Southgate, only rested in the quarter time breaks – for we had no midfield substitutes.
Play from the back was calm and collected when it needed to be, and aggressive and responsive when it called for. Robbie Gill led the charge in beating every attacker to the ball, stepping in front of pink clad man after pink clad man. Iain Gordon, our Man Of the Match, was a rock as per usual at the back, throwing bomb after bomb up the pitch and cutting down any counter attack with the elegant finesse he manages to possess in his tackles despite his strength and size. Ollie was a legend between the sticks, keeping Southgate truly in the lead, until a Teddington drag flick which was, to be fair, a very well slung flick, rippling the back netting.
We went into the halftime team talk with a rare sense of control, and a real drive to bury the sword in the season and leave everything we had on the pitch. Teddington upped their game slightly, but the relentless running of forwards Harry Haynes, Matt Allister, Sim Bird, Charles and Todd meant that the attacks kept coming Teddington’s way. After a lovey baseline entry, the ball was fired across to the P spot for coach Thads to take a touch and launch into the roof of the net, but unfortunately as Gerard may tell you, pitches can be slippy and mistakes happen, as thads lost his footing and flopped the ball at the keepers pads to bat away.
One of Iain’s full pitch aerials found its way from D to D for Harry to touch down, alone in the D, with just the keeper to beat – however the ball went straight through his stick and off the back line. Maybe some cricket this summer might help, Harry. Needless to say, this mistake quickly went answered for, as a quick counter attack from Lewis to Todd to Harry to carry round the shoulder of the D and in towards goal, led to the Teddington defender chopping Harry’s legs as a last resort and giving a penalty flick! Charles stepped up with the confidence of a lion to take the flick and when the whistle blew ….pushed the ball straight down the middle with the strength of a sloth pushing a bowling ball up a hill. Yes it would’ve been his hattrick and yes it would have ruined the Southgate curse of missing penalty flicks but after the game Charles had had, it was forgiven.
Late in the 3rd quarter, after a network of inter passing from Gordo to Christy, who carried the ball with usual prowess up the flank, and slapped the ball in, Guilio guided the ball into the goal to make it 4-2.
As the game drew to a close, Teddington really stoked their fire. After a stage of full team defensive play from Southgate, Matt Allister was called up and carded for ‘aggression’, and we really got worried that our 4-3 win was going to end in a draw. However, with a few short blows of the whistle, the quarter, the game and the season had finished. A momentous victory for the men in Red and Black (who wore white this day). An all round team effort, combining the experience and strength of players like John Sterlini and Iain Gordon, with new players like Lewis Hollett and Todd Lomas, clearly worked well for us this weekend. Special mention to long serving SHC player Lewis Hollett for making his well deserved National League debut
We wouldn’t have won without the right attitude and passion which we clearly had, as well as some individual performances from the Italian Stallion Giulio, the defender of the realm Ollie Wickens and the workhorse Matt Anderson, who leave Southgate this season. Many thanks to Ando for all his efforts this season and best of luck to him moving forward.