On a beautiful sunny afternoon in Southampton the Gondoliers took to the pitch with a bare 11. In the pre-match talk the main theme was “don’t get injured” - good positive thinking and a message vigorously re-enforced by Gouldie the Gorilla (at least that’s what I think he was saying).
That positive message clearly had the desired result as the Gondo’s dominated the first half, passing the ball to avoid wasting energy or pulling muscles. The scoring was opened by Sturgess who latched onto a Howells cross to beat the keeper on the post.
The second goal came from a short corner, when for a change Sturgess listened to Howells and positioned himself just right of the Southampton goal. A slick short corner routine Wylie pushing out at pace stopped cleanly by Howells and passed to Sturgess standing waiting in the requested spot, 2-0.
Guildford were running the show for most of the first half but clearly keen to keep Southampton interested by finding different ways to avoid scoring when it looked easier to score than miss.
Finally, a shot from Sturgess, after yet another foray into the Southampton D, half saved by the Southampton goalie who had an outstanding game (aided and abetted by the Gondo’s forwards) only for Wylie following up smartly to score.
The defense looked impregnable and the forwards were running riot, what could go wrong.
The Gondo’s clearly thought the game was in the bag having missed chances galore but still ahead, surely it was only a matter of time. They relaxed (not quite to the point of lying down for a kip) and sure enough Southampton took advantage and scored a smartly taken goal.
Half time score 3-1, Gondo’s cruising to victory.
Keith wasn't there to tell us to switch on for the first 10 in the second half, so we didn’t. Southampton piled on the pressure helped by a lack of passing from the mid-field, Howells caught in possession a number of times.
The next goal was vital and sure enough it was Southampton who scored. “Mouthy Mowat” conducted a brief and polite discussion with the umpire as to the accuracy of his decision to award Southampton a long corner and the umpire swiftly upgraded it to a short corner. (The umpire had previously warned everyone that he was getting grumpy and asked us all to keep our thoughts to ourselves, or words to that effect.)
The initial shot was saved by Eales but looped up off his pads and fell just under the cross bar to bring the score back to 3-2. Southampton were back in the game and were pushing hard for an equalizer which inevitably came shortly afterwards.
The Gondos finally realised that they were in danger of losing a game that at half time they looked like winning by a comfortable margin. This finally sparked them into life and after some excellent pressing by Sturgess (at least so he claims) the Gondo’s finally won another short corner.
Howells received from another good delivery from Wylie at the short corner and fired it past the Southampton keeper.
4-3 to the Gondo’s and relief all round.
Redemption as a team and redemption of sorts for Howells after a pretty dire second half performance. A game of two halves!
Afterwards; Sausage Chips and Beans washed down with a glass of beer and a general agreement of a good contest. Looking forward to the re-match next year.
Merry Xmas To All!