Jokers Make it Three in a Row
By Luke Michael
Southgate Flagons 1 – 3 Surbiton Jokers
After a shaky start to the season, the resurgent Jokers team travelled to Southgate hoping to make it three wins on the bounce. Travel conditions were less than optimal so the pre-match text banter mainly consisted of sat-nav updates, excuses and ever-later ETAs. The rain cleared as we arrived; an amended start time meant that we began warmed up and purposeful.
The first 20 minutes were spent almost entirely in Southgate’s half. We found early success through transferring the ball and sharp passing down the line from Baynton-Williams and Sayer; Southgate adjusted, allowing greater freedom for Stone and Mallinson to drive into the channels. Southgate packed their circle and were unable to get out, particularly in the face of some rapier-like jab tackles from Bashford. The inexorable pressure finally led to a sharp goal from top scorer Burns.
The goal spurred on the opposition and perhaps we dipped a toe into our comfort zone – Foster and Dye found themselves working hard to snuff out attacks. Southgate pressed. Jim Hey bravely wore one in the midriff from about five yards and was rewarded with being taken off so he could fully focus on how much it hurt. Surely mindful of this, Sait took it upon himself to provide a distraction. A save from Haycroft took him out to the right and Southgate recovered the ball, squared it, then prepared to shoot. An unusual sliding body block from Sait was reminiscent of the trend for footballers lying down behind the wall at free kicks, resulting in a protracted discussion between the umpires as to what they had just seen. A stroke was duly awarded and poor Saity barely had time to put the doors and wheels back on his clown car before the umpire brandished a yellow. His attempts to claim he had slipped fell on deaf ears and he perhaps rues his failure to take GCSE drama as an option at school; nevertheless, the penalty taker hit the post and half time arrived with the Jokers a goal up.
Following some generic tactical points from Draper, we prepared to resume the game but found ourselves accosted by Burns in full roar. It is not possible to quote the pep talk we were given, partly because of the language used but partly because in his anger his accent thickened and became frankly unintelligible. However, as we wiped the flecks of shortbread from our faces, it was pretty clear to all that he thought we could play better.
Play better we did, dominating the first ten minutes of the second half, resulting in another goal for Burns. The game then stretched resulting in chances galore. Foster bagged a third from a short corner and Southgate pinched what proved to be a consolation.
As they pushed to try and get back in the game, Michael was able to exploit the space behind their defence and was put clear through by Hardy. He flew into the circle with the speed and energy of a young puppy, but unfortunately the composure of the same, slicing wide when hitting the target would have been easier. It is fair to say this was not his only chance in the last 15 minutes; the score remained 3-1 to the Jokers and he is likely to spend a long lockdown reflecting.
The win sees the Jokers climb into third in the league.