Match Report : Mark Thomsett
Result : WIN 5-1 vs Luton Town 4s
Tankards came into this game on a fine run of form: three wins on the trot pointed to a revived season, and a win away at Luton would see them head into the Christmas break in a solid midtable position.
After a complex teamtalk, a Tankards line-up featuring returning and new faces took a little while to shake off their rustiness. It didn’t take long though before they started working up through the gears and settled into a dominant pattern of play, spending most of the match within the opposition’s 23-yard line. Operating almost as a front six, Simon Holmes, MS Patti, Richard Bishop-Laggett, Kieran Slorach, Daniel Spencer and Ben Spencer were pulling the Luton defence out of position, forcing them to make poor passes and pressing them back into a crowded D. Clear-cut chances took a while to come, but slowly and surely, opportunities and short-corners started to mount up, and the ball started to hit the backboard. First half goals from Simon Holmes (2), Daniel Spencer and Ben Spencer established a 4-0 half time lead.
The second half again showed Southgate’s dominance, although as the match went on and spaces started to appear, the younger Luton forwards started to create openings on the break. Sterling work from Chris Rouse, Robin Tullo, Tony Mastroddi and Joe Spencer across the back kept them at bay, helped by the midfield and forward line that continued to put in a lot of hard running. Special mention should go to Tony Shiret who put in a good shift in unfamiliar positions – operating in left midfield for periods of the first half and popping up at right wing in the second. A fifth goal was added by Richard Bishop-Laggett following another series of short corners, and the Tankards pressed for more as everyone grew into the game. Some fine saves by the Luton goalkeeper meant that no further goals came for Southgate, and it was Luton who scored the final goal of the match – a quick counter attack and fine strike into the bottom corner. It was a shame to lose the clean sheet, but on balance Luton deserved some reward for their hard work and effort throughout.
A strong, commanding victory, with everyone playing their part. If the Tankards keep up the fitness levels over the festive period (!), a late charge at a promotion spot is not beyond them.
Man of the Match was shared in a three-way tie between Simon Holmes, Daniel Spencer and Ben Spencer, demonstrating the strength of the performances right through the spine of the team.