Match Report by Todd Lomas
Goal: Andrew Westbrook
In the penultimate fixture before the Christmas break, the M3s faced Crostyx in a battle at the top of the table that could have made a massive difference for both teams going into the break, however there was one team that came out on top and that was of course, the great white sharks of the London Leagues, the Southgate M3s.
The game started on the water with a sharp ferocity that cut into the Crostyx team, however after the first few jousts back and forth, Southgate found themselves rather trapped in their own 25, being allowed to transfer back and forth but with no options to move forward.
A more timid team, or a team that is chasing points in the table may have feared this, and to be fully honest, the back line probably did get a bit shaken by this at first, however after some mistakes were made and errors handled, the team started to break through the lines and attack hard. With large aerials over the top, Crostyx were able to relieve pressing pressure from Southgate, however the direction and destination of the balls were not threatening enough to create any danger (more akin to kicking for touch in Rugby than a deep pass in American Football).
With fluster and flurry, the Southgate forward lines moved the ball in and out of the Crostyx defensive third and showed why they were the top attack in the league. With an early backfoot shot from the P spot, Westy tested the keeper, who unfortunately for us, was rather good at his job.
It wasn’t until a piercing ball from Freddie Trathen went from inside the 25, through the shoulder and to again, Westy who beat his marker to get the ball just off the P spot and with a nice controlled reverse sweep – put the ball in the back of the net to make it 1-0. The rest of the half played out in a similar manner, a fair share of possession but with Southgate showing the presiding chances on goal.
Southgate went into the halftime teamtalk with a calm demeanour, taking a breath of air, taking on some sumptuous sweeties provided by Kabir, who is very good at four things on a Saturday – goals and assists, tunes and sweeties. The gameplan didn’t change, the personnel knew what to do and after some minor tactical tweaks and reminders, and some rousing words from the collective group – Southgate lined up, dug their hooves into the ground, kicked up some dust and put the bit between their teeth. The start of the second half was more like the M3s team of previous weeks. The controlled but painful pressure of the front 4 was sustained and faultless for the first ten, causing even the star aerialist for Crostyx to start throwing wee 5 yard bombs from 16s, giving Kabir, Lum, Westy all chances to up the scoreline, however the aforementioned keeper stood fast.
There were a couple counter attacks worth worrying about, however the halftime point had clearly changed something in the opposition for Southgate were fully allowed to move into their groove and run through patterns of play for the next 35. Obviously, a scoreline of 1-0 is nothing to be complacent with, so the pressure was on Southgate to double this lead, however it just never came. It wasn’t until the final play of the game however, that blood vessels nearly burst in Coach Todds head, and star Goalkeeper Akshay earnt his place for next week and showed why he was going to be playing indoor with the 1s following that game (at which he excelled by all accounts.)
With a counter attack down the right hand side, Crostyx entered the D, got tackled illegally, but before a short corner could be called, used the advantage to sting a shot across the goal – almost certain to scream into the backboard, making it boom with the noise of one thousand cannons. However, Akshay was there. With a dive he deflected the ball up onto the crossbar and off towards the back fence and with a toot toot toooot of the final whistle, the game was put to bed. Many thanks to the supporters from the 5s who watched from the balcony and a commiserations to Tim Watson, the Coach of Crostyx but also as ex-southgate coach who coached the likes of myself, Lewis, Aman and others.
MoM: Jup and TJ (Must have been something in the water (wine) in South Africa)
DoD: Sachin and Lucca, for being late because he was carolling and getting injured off the ball, respectively.