Match Report by Ethan Mahendran
Southgate U18 Boys vs Ham & West U18 Boys
3-3 Draw FT
4-2 Win in Shoot-out
Having dispatched local rivals Old Loughts in the last round, it was now time for another heavyweight clash vs Ham & West and their bunch of U18 England players. After watching the mixed game on the pitch before us, the boys knew that they couldn’t let the standard slip and were eager to put up a strong performance in front of the home crowd. Southgate started strong, zipping the ball about at the back and producing some nice interplay. Sticking to the tactics was crucial, as the ball moved swiftly from side to side earning Southgate multiple short corners. One went left slip to resident M1s ball boy Guy, who swivelled and skied it all the way to the car park. Was the hair obstructing his view on goal ? Southgate pushed on, dominating the game pinning Ham and West back. Another short was awarded to Southgate, with Will stepping up and dispatching it bottom left. A deserved goal and finally Southgate made the breakthrough.
A searching ball from Scott was intercepted, as the man stepped in front of Kyle who was still deep in thought about the female spectators during the previous M1’s match. Kiran came in attempting the press, but slipped without anyone near him, probably still in shock about the hole in his bank account after a night out with his girlfriend. Strong pressing from the forwards allowed Southgate to regain possession, and a nice bit of Joergen-style-ball led to an attack down the right. Guy collected it from Jack and Cory driving into the D, and after some scrappy play the ball found its way to Kyle “Kane” who lifts it over the keeper, into the netting! How does he get on the scoresheet nearly every week?
The whistle blew for half time as the lads made their way into the goal. Joergen and Chris were happy with the performance but knew Ham and West were going to attack more and pile more pressure on the Southgate defence. The lads were satisfied but another difficult half was about to come. Ham and West pushed back and were on the front foot for the first 10 minutes. However, after some solid defensive work from everyone, the ball found Leo’s stick as he cut inside, advancing towards the Ham and West goal. He squeezed it over one elegantly, and set it perfectly for a backhand for Jamie ready to tap in. The crowd went wild, and finally someone had listened to the Welsh/German coaching wizard who was delighted with the goal. He went to high five Freddie, who was too much in awe and instead kept stuttering “I don’t believe this”.
Ham and West continued to press aggressively winning a number of shorts in a row. They put one away eventually, immediately answering to Southgate’s third goal.
Despite the scoreline still being in Southgate’s favour, the momentum shifted in favour of Ham and West, who yet again won another short directly from the Southgate push back. After great work from Scott who closed down the angle, the ball was cleared out of the 25 and relieved some pressure. Ham and West still attacked and the game became more intense and feisty, with umpires beginning to give cards. One was given to Scott for flooring one of their players (we blame some recent gym work for Scott being too strong for his oppo player) and another was given to Will for a lovely tactical foul. Ham and West took advantage of their extra man and reduced to deficit to only 1. 15 minutes to go and if we are being completely honest, everyone started s…. themselves.
With the psychological advantage of 2 very quick goals, Ham & West now came at us and we starting to give the ball away too easily, asking for the game to be tied up. Another short was awarded to Ham and West and a drag flick levelled the game, with around 6 to go.
The last 5 mins were pretty much end to end, as both sides were pushing for the winning goal. However, the whistle blew and this meant another game was going to shuffles. Wait a second, according to both umpires the score was 4-3?! Ham and West were furious, and phrases not worth reciting were said. Everyone was trying to figure out what was going on and finally the umpires approached the Southgate camp for their opinion on the scoreline. Good Southgate sportsmanship meant that everyone recognised that ghost goal never happened and Joergen got the team back into a huddle to finalise the takers.
Winning the toss, Southgate was up first:
Leo Garner advancing… and a nice dance in front of the keeper ….
Ham and West stepped up and… scored.
Captain Scott was up next, surely his trademark move can’t fail… and it didn’t as the ball was comfortably slotted away.
Ham and West stepped up, repeating the same trick as before and… scored.
Guy Garner was the next player … clearly wanting to get this over with quickly he scored after what felt like 2.5 seconds.
Ham and West could feel the pressure mounting… and their shuffle was SAVED BY SAM!!!
Will stepped up, to put Southgate ahead… YES!! The decision to practice shuffles in the last training before the game proved to be another tactical masterclass from Joergen.
Ham and West were on the backfoot and there was big pressure to score… out comes Sam and… BIG SAVE.
4-2 Final and the boys go off celebrating.
Great and deserved win overall after a tough second half. Bring on the next heavyweight opposition in the Quarterfinal.
Scorers: Will, Kyle, Jamie
SO Scorers: Leo, Scott, Guy, Will
MoM: 4way tie unbelievably – Sam, Tadhg, Guy, Leo
Third goal (surely the club goal of the Season)
…. And other topics which will stay in the changing room.
Many thanks to
Chris James for umpiring us this season for the umpteenth time.
M1 and South Africa legend Anton vL for kicking our butt this week in shuffle training.
All the players staying behind from their earlier matches to support us.
DJ Wayne for the music and Sarah W. for dealing with match tea admin.