Match Report by Simon Bate

With the M6s having a bye this week, the M8s were afforded with some extra firepower for their game against Hertford 7s at Queenswood School. Due to some complications, our keeper Nigel Dixon, was unable to join us until the second half, but despite this worry we took control of the match from the get-go and dominated possession and territory with Hertford unable to make it out of their half until after the break. Chris Rouse, Antony Spencer and Alex Prior in midfield picked the ball off the oppo with ease and distributed swiftly, giving Hertford no chance. Up front, Chris Gerrard, Adam Batchelor and James Lockheart ran the Hertford defenders ragged and provided plenty of options for the midfield, with Martin Christie and Ben Spencer subbing on seamlessly and continuing the great work.

Our half-backs of Leon Flack and Kieran Slorach drove back any Hertford attack that had made it through midfield and moved the ball up the wings with pace and skill. Giles Weblin and Joe Spencer at full back, rarely touched the ball but were calm and assured when they did, providing a solid foundation from which to build attacks. Simon “Os” Bate formed the last line of defence and spent most of his time trying to keep warm by jogging around the 23, occasionally acting as a pivot for the half-backs!

Despite our early dominance, we couldn’t seem to score but the tide turned at a penalty corner and Alex slotted in the ball. Martin followed up a while later with a lovely goal that he squeezed past the Hertford keeper, and Alex scored again at another PC before half-time, with a lovely drag flick. 3-0 at half-time but we were sure there were more to come. Indeed, less than 60 seconds after Hertford restarted the game, a quality piece of teamwork saw James score an exquisite goal and set the tone for the rest of the game. Minutes later, Nigel joining us on pitch allowed Antony to take a rest (playing with a suspected broken toe), and Os moved up to midfield to take over his role in a slightly less capable manner.

Alex showed some excellent tackling and dribbling, breaking down Hertford’s attempts time after time and had several shots on goal. Eventually his persistence was rewarded, and he slotted home a stunning reverse from the left of the D, burying it in the top right corner. With Hertford rocked, we continued to dominate, and Adam was rewarded for his hard work and persistence with a cracking goal.

A frustrated Hertford pushed forwards a few times and worried our defence with forays into our D on a couple of occasions, but Leon, Giles, Joe and Kieran continued to prove impenetrable and repelled them with ease. Nigel was brought into action only once to clear our lines when a stray ball emerged from one skirmish. More attacks from Southgate came and Ben scored a belter at the end of one of these. Jealous of all the scorers, Os stepped up at another of our many penalty corners, and struck a sweet hit that satiated his appetite, the Hertford keeper’s toe unable to stop it.

Ben followed his first with a second when some familial telepathy during another PC saw Antony receive at the top and slap a beautifully timed ball to him to redirect past the goalie. The tally was completed in the dying minutes when Os found himself in possession at the top of the D and despite several unmarked teammates calling for it, selfishly shimmied the ball past a defender and unleashed a flick that found the backboard with a resounding thud.

A great game played by all, but Man of the Match overwhelmingly went to Alex Prior for his incredible work rate, skill and 3 superbly taken goals. Honourable mention to James, who also had an excellent game. Up the ‘Gate!!

M8s Season to date: Played 7; Won 5; Lost 2