Report by Dhillon Shukla
The start of the season was a roaring success for the Fives – we made it onto the club Instagram. On pitch however, performance was mixed. We played with a bare 11 against an even barer 9, so the 3 points should have, at least on paper, been assured from the off. The oppo from East London did well all told although they turned up in orange and navy choosing the most similar colours possible to our red and black regalia. Arguably this was their most effective tactic of the day, earning them 4 cheap turnovers. They opted for a bold 9 men in the D, switching later to the tactically astute 8 in the D and 1 on the halfway line. East London’s stand-out performer was their keeper with some very quick feet and fine saves. Southgate’s Mighty Fives dominated them from the start, earning and firing in from short corners, narrowly missing each time.
There were some cracking shots from the top of the D, lots of scuffles by the P-spot and lots of skill in midfield. Our defenders making overlapping runs in the opposition 25 made for great viewing. The highlight of the first half was Arun’s continual fakes and dummies, linking up effortlessly with our midfield creating constant chances. We pressed and pressed but to no avail, ending the half 0-0. Actually, the story of this game doesn’t start with the first half. It starts at roughly 19:45 Friday night, near Grovelands park, where star striker Dhillon Shukla – returning to the team from a 3 year hiatus, was putting in hard hours in the gym. Long story short, he cannot lift 16 kilos in the overhead press. Thanks to our last minute replacement who came in at short notice. The oppo came into the second half with another man, though this didn’t help.
Duncan Trathen took his long corner quickly, the ball switched beautifully across the face of the D to the replacement who buried a clean strike into the bottom left, no quick feet were stopping that one. The full backs had total access down the channels and we witnessed some never before seen attacking line play from our resident MC. Andy made some beautiful forays through the midfield, gliding to the top of their D with an elegance rarely seen in the 5’s. Alastair ran like a greyhound who wasn’t playing another match straight after and engineered more turnovers than he should have, and Duncan hassled their midfield like a terrier. Ivan had some silky touches down the middle just further exhausting the oppo, snatching away almost every 50/50.
The replacement binned a seemingly inevitable second which made the crowd (Just me at that point) roar. There was a scary period of pressure late in that second half, but ultimately that was just to tease John into thinking he’d get a touch in. Mat then made up for his 45-minute-long absence of first touch with some sound defending to pull us out of trouble. All in all, a good start for the lads in this new league, highlighted some areas of weakness and showed our strengths in many more. Thanks to East London for coming and hats off to them for putting in a serious shift especially when they only had 9 men in the first half and just 10 for the second. As for the Fives, give it a few weeks for the squad to settle, shake off that rust and we’re going for back-to-back promotions. CLAIM.