Southgate make Surbiton sweat in match for the ages

England Men’s Premier Division

Match report by Alastair Whatley

Surbiton vs Southagte

2-2 D

It was the definition of a must-win game for Kwan Browne and his players as they returned to Sugden road for the second time in 2024 for a fixture which would determine whether Southgate would remain in the hunt for an EHL spot next year.

For the first time this season Browne had at his disposal a fully fit squad of players and so he rang the changes as brining back in Douglas, Ferrini, West and Allan Dick who made a return to the side in goal.

The evening saw the temperature drop and the Southgate supporters huddled together for warmth on the tiered seating adjacent to the pitch as Surbiton spectators lined the breadth of the Sugden Road pitch. A win for Surbiton would see them into the play-offs, a win for Southgate would open a door for the club unopened for over 30 years.

The game was a frenzy, aerial balls abounded and Southgate played from the first whistle with fire in their bellies and more than that a belief brought from a tough few months which has seen good performance go unrewarded. Allan Dick who came in for Anton von Loggerenberg was immediately brought into action as he saved an early strike with his head, a ball thudding against his helmet with a ringing din that reverberated into the west London night in the opening minute.

It took until the 6th minute for Calnan to drive hard on the left on his reverse hitting the baseline and firing a pin point backhand pass onto the tip of Ramshaw’s extended stick leaving GB’s Mazaerlo no chance as he deflected the ball with a resounding thud against the backboard of the Surbiton goal. The home supporters fell silent as the away supporters roared their approval.

Southgate’s Teague Marcano runs with the ball. Surbiton v Southgate – MHL Premier Division at Sugden Road, Thames Ditton, London, UK on 23 March 2024.
Photo by Simon Parker/SP Action Images

Yet the Mark Pearn coached time responded and in the 13th minute Rob Farrington delivered a challenging aerial into the heart of the Southgate D which took Southgate defender Gill by surprise and Struan Walker the consummate finisher duly delivered with a strike that left Allan Dick no chance.

The next two quarters became a game of cat and mouse. Mazarello single handedly repelling wave after wave of Southgate attacks and Allan Dick called into action with a succession of quality saves at the other end. It was electric stuff, neither side giving quarter. Yet 8 minutes from the final whistle , the away side were delivered a hammer blow when a scrappy ball into the circle was bundled into the goal giving Surbiton a crucial nose in front, the goal finally awoke the Surbiton supporters who had been almost silent in the still night until that moment.

Yet the hardy ‘Gate supporters found another octave in their support and within seconds Jack Middleton charged the baseline and pinged a ball with razor sharp accuracy to Teague Marcano who collared it home to silence the Surbiton crowd once again. 2-2 with 7 minutes left on the clock.

Southgate’s Teague Marcano celebrates scoring their equaliser. Surbiton v Southgate – MHL Premier Division at Sugden Road, Thames Ditton, London, UK on 23 March 2024.
Photo by Simon Parker/SP Action Images

Browne managed to find Ramshaw in the D with a probing aerial seconds from time but it wasn’t to be as the final whistle. Being phase 3 the game headed straight into a shoot-out for a critical bonus point. Southgate had to win the shoot-out to keep their homes alive.

Yet against one of the best shoot out keepers in the world the odds were stacked against the visitors and despite some heroics from Calnan and Dick it wasn’t enough and Surbiton came home 4-1 winners and sending Southgate into the Oxted game with the door to Europe closed once again.

Surbiton’s James Mazarelo saves from Rohan Bhuhi of Southgate during a shoot out. Surbiton v Southgate – MHL Premier Division at Sugden Road, Thames Ditton, London, UK on 23 March 2024.
Photo by Simon Parker/SP Action Images

Yet as the dust settled on a truly magnificent game of hockey it is worth reflecting that this squad of players have taken the two top sides of this league into the final moments of games. The 5-4 loss at Old Georgians which saw two late PC’s turn victory into defeat and this 2-2 draw against Surbiton which saw Browne’s side more than match the 2nd placed side in the league. It’s been a tough road since Christmas, but not an unproductive one. Southgate sits proudly once again as one of the top teams in the UK, and word has started to get around that The ‘Gate is back open for business.

A final game of the season awaits vs Oxted on the 6th April at 18:00. Make a bee line for the club and get ready to see an incredible season off in style.