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Men’s 4.5s 1 - 1* Wimbledon 5s (H)
* 5 - 4 after penalty shuffles

21st February 2023

By Barney Christopher

On Saturday 18th February, Surbiton 4.5s (an eclectic combination of the 4th and 5th XIs) hosted the EH Tier 4 Cup Round of 16 against Wimbledon 5s. An overcast day, teasing rain, prepared the pitch with excellent playing conditions. After the full Wimbledon squad completed multiple warm ups, the rest of the Surbiton team arrived at the club and made their way onto the pitch. Club umpires Nat Pirie and Jess Tallent officiated the proceedings and got the match underway. 

Fresh legs and a deep bench let SHC put pressure onto the Mertonites early, with some great chances to go ahead in the first few phases of the game. Wimbledon bounced back eagerly but had difficulty building momentum to break Surbiton's quality at the back. Turning up the heat, Surbiton's forwards earned a short corner and Alex Richards stepped up from centre back to man the castle. A dodgy drag out provided coach Alex the opportunity to execute consecutive V drags straight out of the U8s academy and eliminated the first and second runners, leaving him a slot to post the ball onto the backboard, breaking Surbiton's egg and putting them 1-0 up. The game settled with the anticipation of half time and for Wimbledon to regain legs lost during their warm ups.

An inspirational team talk and some light hearted heckling from injured player coach captain Rory Hogan sent Surbiton out to battle for the win. The second half proceeded as the first with some great opportunities on goal including James "Colin Colin" Riley trapping an aerial deep behind enemy lines and having his shot saved, a key goal line save by the author of this report and the subjective best player on the pitch Mr Barney John Stewart Christopher, and some outstanding goal tending by Daz Esawaramohan. Counting the minutes down, Surbiton held steady, batting off multiple attempts at goal down to the two minute signal from the umpires. In what transpired to be the last five seconds of the match, Wimbledon took a shot through congestion in the D, sneaking through multiple players from both teams onto Surbiton's backboard to bring the game to 1-1 on the final whistle, turning the match outcome over to the hands of the Gods via shuffles.

Wimbledon stepped up first against the all-star lineup of Richards, Brucie, Quinn, Pawson, and Woods. Quality was displayed with both stick and pad to bring the scores square to 2-2 after five shuffles each, triggering the sudden death round. It would take another four shuffles per team and some outstanding saves from the unofficial VK Man of the Match Dharren Esawaramohan to give Harry Pawson the opportunity to nutmeg the keeper to seal the victory for the mighty 4.5s. 

The quarter finals will be in Plymouth as Devonport Services (emergency not motorway) host the 4.5s in mid March. Spectators are welcome if they're passing by.