Tankards have been in fine form over recent weeks, but the arrival of Shefford & Sandy, the division’s early pace-setters, would prove a stern test. The first half was a tough battle, with Shefford & Sandy breaking rapidly through the Tankard’s midfield on numerous occasions, driven by good running and quick passing. Their midfield were quick to the tackle too, denying Tankards the opportunity to play their passing game. It came as no surprise to see Shefford & Sandy open the scoring, and while their three first half goals may have come from individual errors, these were errors brought about by their sharp pressing, denying Tankards time and space in critical areas of the pitch.
Tankards though, never let their heads drop, and their good form over the past couple of weeks has been driven by their hard work and attitude. Some excellent approach play and fine finishing from Simon Holmes and Fin Sheridan-Licata-meant that Tankards went in just 3-2 down at half time. That scoreline maybe flattered the Tankards, but it left a real belief that they could get something from the game.
The second half panned out very different from the first: Shefford & Sandy’s two most influential players had to head off to other matches (which might explain their ability to dominate the midfield in the first half!), and the result was that momentum in the match swung decisively to Tankards. A defense of Kieran Slorach, James Rushton and Alex Holmes never looked like allowing Nigel Dixon to be troubled in goal, and a rotating midfield of Simon Holmes, Fin Batchelor, Oliver Heaviside, Randall Hyer and Felix Alistair completely dominated, allowing Dan Rookes, Chris Gerrard and Fin Sheridan-Licata plenty of opportunities to create havoc in the Shefford & Sandy ‘D’.
Tankards scored three goals without reply in the second half, each of them a fine example of the kind of swift passing, running and finishing that we try to bring through at Southgate. Simon Holmes and Randall Hyer rounded off fine moves with excellent finishes, but the pick of the bunch was probably Felix Alistair’s goal, where unselfish off-the-ball running from the front three created the space for him spot the opportunity and ghost in at the far post to finish off Dan Rookes’ excellent centre.
5-3 the satisfying final score, with everyone stepping up and improving as the match went on. Tankards now sit just one point off the top of the table and are building momentum as the mid-point of the season approaches.