Result : Southagte 3 – 1 Brighton
Match Report : Alastair Whatley
The son of the Mad King George (it was porphyria) loved Brighton and built a nice pavilion by the sea down there, Graham Green immortalised Brighton as the city of mods and rockers in his most famous of novels until Zoe Ball and Norman Cooke made it trendy all over again before leaving like everyone else to a village by the sea and some P&Q.
Until this season when the brothers Sterlini, like Jeffrey Archer’s Kane and Abel, were torn asunder as Joe moved down to the bright lights and signed on with the local team. So it proved a fraternal match up of epic Southgate proportions with Captain John facing off against brother Joe in a game which ‘Gate very much needed a 3 pointer.
The stage was set with the English channel sat moored on an autumnal squall behind the sandy pitch fortress of Blathchington Mill School. To set the scene the spectators gather with the austere red brick of the school building to their backs and a grassy knoll beneath their feet leading down to the pitch which lies beneath you.
The Brighton supporters were lined up, some picnicking from the boots of their cars, some in gentle conversation, all oblivious to the battle about to commence just below them. The whistle blew and the ball pushed backwards, hardly had we time to draw breath when Joe took himself off with a strained back (just like the Queen) and so the Battle of the Brothers Sterlini was extinguished before it had even caught fire and as Joe
stretched out on the sidelines- John began to exert himself.
And with that, albeit after a slightly stodgy start, Southgate bossed the first quarter. The boys found a fluidity which saw the ball bounce around like a jack rabbit from stick to stick with pace and accuracy. Brighton lacking their Sterlini star looked a little off the pace and struggled to press our very solid defensive unit who with Adam ‘Pricey’ Price , Thaddeus ‘Thads’ Rivett, Christy ‘Nickname unknown’ Walkin and Iain ‘Gordo’ Gordon distributing the ball with flair and poise it soon came to pass that balls started whizzing past the posts of Brighton keeper Christopher Borsoi. Manna to the perfectly formed Southgate Away Supporters Union.
A penalty corner came Southgate’s way in the 13th minute and the ball rebounded at pace to the right of the goal mouth only to find the stick of Robbie Gill, who with élan, poise and panache whacked the ball home to the resounding groan of the Brighton supporters. Watched on by his Dad and Sister it was a fine moment for a Southgate player who has worked his way up from the Tankards to our top team to record his first National League goal. Get in the Gill.
The first quarter drew to a breathy close and the second quarter saw Southgate completely dominant. The 20th minute saw a sublime ball passed cross court into the D and a clinical finish from captain John Sterlini sent Gate two to the good. The keeper had no chance. More Brighton groans.
Robbie Gill and Charles Hamilton hunted well with trusty cohort Matt Allister and Robbie came close to his second when John Sterlini delivered a masterly ball from the right halfway sideline at great pace onto the right post- where Robbie (and Charles) fell just millimetres short of a third goal.
Yet the youth was with us this week as new signing Giles Woodland unleashed his inner Kerly and curled a ball on the hoof over the outstretched keeper from the left D into the netting on the stroke of half time to give Southgate a comfortable 3-0 cushion at the end of the second quarter.
In to the second half and things began going a bit Pete Tong. Hard to pin point it exactly, but somewhere between Brighton stepping up the intensity and the sea air settling differently over the Hove wey-lines the game become a dog fight which saw umpires, players and even coaches caught in each others crossfires.
Ollie Wickens drove his lines with precision and was called into action on a few occasions keeping the ball out with his customary muscle. At one point he drew a satisfying groan of dismay from the home supporters when he padded a ball like Mitchel Marsh into the ether and away from danger.
‘Gate had their own chances with Charles Hamilton and Owen Evan-Evans both getting one-on-one with the Brighton keeps. Robbie Gill even had a third bite at the apple when another great ball in from Captain Sterlini- just shy of being converted. Then on the stroke of the end of Q3 Brighton found their release as Jack Jones collared a ball nicely past the hoof of Ollie Wickens and gave Brighton the glimmer of a reprieve.
The final quarter got really tasty, with an array of cards on both sides, hard for anyone to keep abreast with. Matt Anderson did some superb tracking back to prevent an almost certain scoring opportunity but felt the stiff end of the umpiring wedge with a comfy sit down on the sidelines, then Ollie Wickens produced a memorable save on yet another Brighton counter but was judged to have impeded the player and Brighton were awarded a flick 10 minutes from the final whistle.
A crucial moment, but cometh the hour cometh the Wickens who faced down his opposite number and with Derren Brown powers beyond our ‘ken saw the Brighton attacker deflect hard off the post and to safety keeping the score 3-1.
The final minutes saw more chances at either end. Some fine play from Guilio Ferrini, Sam Weissen and Jonny Maunder helped keep ‘Gate on top and the final whistle came to – with some relief for the away support.
Brighton away is often a so called banana skin game, and the boys judiciously avoided any major slips, kept their cool and enjoyed some spells of some seriously fine hockey. This team can play- and with increasing confidence should come the verve and joie de vivre of old.
The win sees us move up into mid table with a home game against old rivals
Teddington to see us out to the winter break. Come on down on Saturday to support the team and ensure we head into Christmas with our tails up and our peckers red and black.