Saturday 04 Nov 2023

Match Report by Alastair Whatley | Photos by Simon Parker

Southgate 6 – 2 Oxted

Southgate goalkeeper Allan Dick saves a penalty corner. Southgate v Oxted – MHL Premier Division at Southgate Hockey Centre, Trent Park, London, UK on 04 November 2023. Photo by Simon Parker/SP Action Images

Kwan Browne steered his side to a convincing win in a dominant performance over mid table challengers Oxted as a Matt Ramshaw hat-trick electrified the crowd under the lights in Trent Park on Saturday evening.

The game brought a surprise return to former Southgate Keeper and more recently W1 coach Allan Dick, who answered an unexpected call from the coach earlier in the week to return to side when travel, international duty and injury left him unexpectedly short of a keeper. Despite a gap of almost 8 years from top flight keeping, Allan trained, got picked and subsequently put in a huge performance to the delight of the balcony and his family who were watching proudly on from the sidelines.

After the slow start against Wimbledon which cost the team 3 early goals, John Sterlini and his players leapt out of the gates and looked to impose their game on the visitors from Oxted. The first quarter highlighted that Oxted were to give no quarter as they showcased a strong, muscular brand of hockey which Southgate players enjoyed matching stride for stride. Chances at both ends and some dynamic saves from Dick in the ‘Gate goal drew cheer from the crowd but the game went into Q2 with scores on equal footing at 0-0.

The second quarter was a feast of hockey unlike any other seen this season with goal after goal and chance after chance as Kwan and his team put on a display that Nick Giles and his Oxted players almost matched. Ramshaw got the party started in the 23rd minutes with a low hard flick to the left hand corner. No sooner had the crowd calmed within just 60 seconds Simon Walker picked out Rohan Bhuhi who danced his way from the right hand channel feeding a ball to Jack Middleton who in space from the top of the circle spun and on his reverse drove the ball into the right hand side of Dom Dixon’s goal.

Yet Oxted came back hard and just two minutes later finally beat the Southgate keeper as a fine ball into the D was met with a smart deflection from Oxted regular Rob Mugridge that closed the gap to 2-1. It took another 120 seconds for ‘Gate to reply with Archie Foster’s flick being well saved by Dixon falling squarely for injector Middleton to bag his brace with a canny flick over the prostrate Oxted keeper. 3-1. And still the quarter kept giving as on the stroke of half time with the crowd breathless Dixon saved a point blank deflection from Ramshaw which was picked up and slotted home by Karan Sofat to put the home side up 4-1 at half time.

After the pulsating fireworks for Q2, Q3 saw everyone get their breath as the play returned to a more attritional period. Plenty of physicality on display and Oxted finding moments to highlight their quality with some strong counter attacking hockey well parried by the ‘Gate defensive unit. Yet it was young England u16 player Oliver Bennett who delivered possibly the goal of the night – with stiff competition- with a solo goal that saw him run through half the ‘Gate team before clinically flicking the ball into the netting. 4-2 at end of Q3.

The Oxted Dam was breached by Ramshaw who nailed a flick high and left beating Dixon and giving Southgate an almost unassailable 3 goal advantage. More chances continued to come but it was Ramshaw’s night as he doggedly fought almost to the final whistle when Calnan fed a ball deep into the left hand side of the D, Ramshaw picked up the ball pivoted onto his reverse and smartly collared the ball like a thunderbolt at Dixon who could only deflect it at pace into his goal.

6-2 at the final whistle, a superb game of hockey enjoyed by both sets of spectators, in a weekend with some very one sided games in the Premier Division this much anticipated game lived up to expectation on a real contest between two teams vying for a spot in the top 6. Southgate with the points now need just one more big performance as they now prepare to meet the challengers from East Grinstead who travel to Southgate looking to shake off a weekend horribilis as they fell 0-13 down against the OG sword.