Royal Flush

Report Author: Matt Smith

Game: Southampton Men vs Queen Mary (Barts)

Location: Poplar Baths (Away)

Score: 7-4

Date: 23/2/23

On a cold Thursday afternoon, the team embarked on the trek up to London for the game against Queen Mary’s College London (Barts). Despite missing some key players, the atmosphere was good with a sense of quiet confidence after the previous meeting ended in an 11-3 victory for the Stags. There were whispers of the pool not being amazing, but nothing prepared us for what we saw. With a shallow end of ‘one Popple’ in depth (1.2M) and a deep end that you could stand in complimented with its short length, counter-attacking opportunities were certain to be non-existent. However, worse still, the shallow end goal was the same size as the deep end goal even though the keeper could stand, making attacking this goal virtually impossible. Despite all this, the boys were keen to get underway and started warming up in the abnormally cold pool leaving some of the lads with a very ‘small friend’. The ref finally arrived and was keen to start, but first, he shouted shortly at our subs. Nevertheless, the game ensued.

The whistle sounded and the game was underway. Barts started off by catching the ball with two hands and sinking it, this was a sign of what they would try to do to us, bewildering us with such an outlandish tactic however this did not faze us as the Stags held firmly determined not to concede any goals in the shallow end. The game was rough, with majors for a few of the lads, as the boys were not accustomed to the pool and there was somewhat of a stalemate despite a saucy back shot attempt from Finn. Dalton then found himself in some space, as he often does, and fired it home, with the rage of the speeding ticket he’d received minutes earlier still burning strong in his mind, to end the first quarter 1-0 to the stags. A good start especially considering the mutilation Howard was receiving on the far side by the opposition.

With a consequent change of tactic, the second half got underway with much better polo from the boys, man-marking and diving into and out of position to create space in the small pool. By moving the ball around to negate the lenient reefing style. It was going well however Barts scored twice leveling the score, but our captain responded with one of his own to make it all square at 2-2 heading into the 3rd quarter.

By the 3rd quarter, the boys had finally realised how to start correctly from a foul, leading to some well set-up arcs and good spout of possession. Another goal from Dalton was welcomed, scoring from a corner firing past 3 defenders in the goal making it 3-2. With some back-and-forth action and another unsuccessful back-shot attempt from Finn the boys started getting confident leading to an unfortunate counterattack goal that baffled everyone in the tiny pool. Luckily just before the end of the quarter Luke made an amazing save and with the arc set up Matt dropped a great pass into Dan in the middle of their tired defense which he lashed home. Leaving it 4-3 to the stags as we entered the final quarter.

Tension was high going into the final quarter as we knew winning this game would secure us 2nd place in the league, a huge achievement for the club. The nerves got the better of the boys as Barts were the first to score, tying the game at 4-4. This was quickly answered by yet another Dalton goal. The lads obviously didn’t think Luke had been tested enough as they left him with not one, not two, but three one on ones that he heroically saved with his face, later revealing that it felt better than a knee to the face. After this, the Barts boys realised they were not going to get another goal past Luke, so their intensity dropped massively allowing Howard to finally get out of their grasp and score, extending our lead. To conclude the game, Dalton scored another, just for fun, to leave the final score 7-4 to the Stags. A good result to end a good season for the boys in burgundy.

Man of the Match – Luke Bennalick, one of his first games back for Soton and his excellent saves reminded us just how much we missed him.

Dick of the Day – Sam Dalton, who drove the boys to Trafalgar Square instead of the pool.

Names – Goals/Majors

Luke Bennalick – 0/0

Ed Wilkes – 0/1

Finn Thomas – 0/1

Adam Draper – 0/0

Daniel Ammon – 2/0

Sam Dalton – 4/0

Alex Wilmshurst – 0/1

Matt Smith – 0/0

James Popple – 0/1

Howard Teng – 1/0

Nathan Dimond – 0/0


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