Southgate overpowered an injury struck Canterbury side to get themselves back to winning ways in a commanding performance which leaves them 8 point clear at the top of the table.
Vivek Dongha came into the side making his first team debut to the delight of the home support as coach Kwan Browne juggled injuries to Ramshaw and West for this crunch fixture against 3rd placed Canterbury.
The visitors came into the game with a depleted squad having lost two of their players to or in South Africa and unfortunately James Meakin pulled up with a back injury during the warm up meaning the boys in White and Green started with just 13 players.
Southgate immediately dominated possession through the first quarter. Within minutes of push back the pressure broke with Teague Marcano driving the left channel finding crowd favourite Karan Sofat leading wide who pulled the ball back top D for Teague to shoot hard and low- saved well by former Gate keeper Chris ‘Radar’ Rea before falling to the wiles of Charles Hamilton to put it away giving the boys in red and black a 1-0 advantage.
Canterbury attempted to rally, yet despite some solid build up play were unable to breach the stoic Southgate defence with Rob Gill, Sam Weissen, Simon Walker and Kwan all on song and sharp in the turnover and distribution. The second quarter built on the possession of the first and soon Guilio Ferrini sought out new New Zealand recruit Richmond Lum who fed the ball into the D beating various Canterbury players before dinking the ball for Ferrini who with Rea advancing fast moved fast to his reverse and chipped it with some panache into the netting making it 2-0.
Penalty Corners followed at both ends with Rea making a series of fine saves before Canterbury attempted an ambitious routine with a dummy slip left which failed to connect. The game subsequently went into half time with Gate keeper Oliver Wickens completely untroubled.
The second half played out as much more cagey affair, Southgate continued to pile on the pressure with Rea in action continuously making a succession of string saves including a blinding jab to keep Drew Burkin out of the top bins. Canterbury managed some reverse offensive manoeuvres but nothing that troubled a commanding Ollie Wickens .
The final moments Canterbury fitness was tested with plenty of space and entertaining hockey to tease the Gate supporters, yet the visitors held out and the game finished with a comfortable Southgate victory.
The win extends the Mens lead at the top of Division One South with 8 points between Southgate and nearest rivals Teddington who after getting the better of us last week drew to relegation contenders Old Cranleighans. This weekend Southgate head west take on Oxford Hawks who came off with a heavy defeat in our first meeting at home. Yet nothing can be taken for granted in this topsy-turvey league and Kwan will be needing to ensure his side continue to stay sharp and focussed as they edge closer to that elusive promotion to the premier division next season.
MOM was Karan Sofat for another commanding performance in the midfield line with debutante Vivek Dongha a popular runner up.
Thanks to all who came down to support and cheer on the team, they are next at home on the 4th March against local rivals Old Loughtonians.