Having had 19 available for the previous week, in typical Gondoliers fashion we were short for our away game against Havant.
Fortunately Havant provided both umpires and also loaned us a young keeper who had an excellent game. We were also honoured to have Mike Fitter make a guest appearance so took to a cold Portsmouth pitch with the bare eleven.
Nigel had been to a tactics talk and it evidently did the trick with the Gondoliers displaying superb teamwork throughout the game. With both teams playing a 4, 4, 2 formation, the Gondoliers only needed two of our four defenders to mark the opposition forwards, leaving Fitter to play a deep sweeper role while Savage played just behind the midfield.
This effectively prevented Havant from any attack down the centre as Savage was in tremendous form tackling anyone who penetrated the midfield. He also ably supported our attacks even carrying the ball so far up the pitch he started to suffer from vertigo!
Meanwhile, Mowat sent a steady stream of overheads down the left wing and even occasionally across the pitch. Winn, Basey and Tonks enjoyed working the ball quickly up the right by playing one/two touch hockey in numerous triangles round any Havant players unfortunate enough to be in the way.
Sturgess and Gartland caused constant problems to the Havant defence with Sturgess picking up any ball that came within his extensive range and Gartland sprinting non-stop for virtually the full 70 minutes. This created space which Windsor-Lewis exploited with several incisive runs through the midfield.
Goals came at regular intervals with Sturgess slotting in three from short range and Windsor-Lewis also netting three, though one was disallowed. However, "almost goals" came even more frequently with Gartland in particular peppering the Havant goal with shot after shot, none of which were destined to find the back of the net.
To their credit, Havant fought hard throughout the match and in the second half started to penetrate down the flanks. However, with Toplas making some fine interceptions and Fitter, calm as ever, both marshalling the defence and making some key tackles it was rare for them to have a shot. When they did, Ben, our young Havant keeper was more than up to the task and deservedly kept a clean sheet.
Havant 0 Gondoliers 5 (Sturgess 3, Windsor-Lewis 2)
Man of the match: Tim Savage.