Southgate’s Men responded immediately to last weeks defeat to Old Loughts with a resounding victory on the road at Bath.
The match began with a minutes applause in memory of former M1 manager Jim Wallington who had sadly died in the week. Both teams lined up to face the stand and supporters and marked the memory of a great Southgate man- whose generosity, kindness and support for a generation of players was the stuff of legend. The team then went out to put on a show, one which we hope Jim was watching down on.
The first exchanges were nervy, last weeks result clearly leaving a few cobwebs with turnovers through the middle of the pitch leading to some swift Bath counter attacks. One of which down the left channel saw a Bath forward with a clean shot from the top D which keeper Ollie Wickens deployed some quick thinking deciding to let it pass his kicker to hit the back boards whereupon as Bath spectators cheered a goal they were immediately sat down by the umpire who judged that it was struck outside the D . The score remained 0-0.
Yet through the quarter Gate began to dominate with a succession of corners, the first after just 5 minutes of play which Drew Burkin flicked high and right but well saved by Rob Foxhall-Smith in the Bath goal. The second well won by Dan West, taken at top D by dominant forward Teague Marcano who sent it low and left but again superbly saved by the Bath keeper. Yet 60 seconds later Teague won Gate’s third PC with a strong baseline entry finding a Bath foot, yet again saved by Foxhall-Smith which was followed by yet another PC this time run down well by Bath defender Rory Brown. The score line remained twitchy at 0-0 going into the end of Q1.
The Bath supporters had brought a megaphone and began to work themselves up with some banter thrown over the railings yet the Southgate players remained focussed and soon exerted themselves on the game with increasing style. The ball working well around the back finding the wide midfielders and allowing the screens to find pockets of space in the middle. Both Jose Hurtado and the returning Karan Sofat pulled in the miles with huge amounts of leg work creating space and opportunities aplenty. Karan soon won Gate’s 5th PC which was run down by Rory Brown again although this time taking out Kwan Browne in the process.
In this spell of ten a-side Teague Marcano broke the deadlock with a fine reverse strike in the 16th minutes into the bottom right corner. He was unlucky not to make it a brace with an incredible reflex to save from Foxhall-Smith denying Southgate the 2 goal advantage.
Charles Hamilton saw green in the 22nd minute and in the next minute (23minutes) Bath player Liam Cunningham followed suit and evened the score with a green card of his own.
It was just three minutes later (28mins) that at Gate’s 6th PC Kwan slipped the ball left for Burkin to slap the ball home. 2-0 to the boys in red and black. Soon after Gate were frustrated by 2 yellow cards which kept them at 10 men for much of the remainder of the quarter. Yet under captain John Sterlini, who marshalled the middle of the pitch with aplomb, any Bath threat was effectively neutralised.
Just before HT our centre back Rob Gill rolled his ankle running the lines and although attempting to heroically hobble his way to the break he was pulled off and Jack Middleton stepped back from the screen and stepped up as a super defensive sub. 2-0 at half time.
2-0 was also the score line the previous weekend against Loughts and so neither team nor away supporters took heart from the lead, instead an intensive team talk followed in readiness for a big 30 minutes of action.
Bath were clearly aiming to spoil the Southgate party and began to frustrate with some good work moving out through the lines helped by their number 3 – John Jackson – who showed his class at frequent intervals moving the ball with panache yet Bath were unable to find the connections in the final third frustrated by stubborn Southgate defence.
Teague Marcano came into his own once again in the final quarter with a finely worked routine in the 47th minute with two castles switching at the last moment as Teague feinted right and sent Foxhall-Smith the wrong way slotting the ball home to the left before in the 50th minute completing his hat-doing the exact opposite and pulling off the double bluff to the delight of the 6 away supporters.
Matt Allister had been putting in the work up front for much of the second half with a few half chances not quite coming off, but it wasn’t long before a well worked sequence of passes from the back led to a pin point cross from the Northern Irish international which was met with clinical precision by Charles Hamilton who put home his 9th goal of the season in the 59th minute.
Not to be undone Burkin drilled yet another Gate PC in the 62nd minute down the middle to cement his brace and his 10th goal of the season to make the score 6-0. Southgate continued to exert pressure into the dying minutes with chances pinging around the Bath D yet without making it the magnificent 7. Nevertheless as the final whistle blew Southgate can reflect on one of their most dominant performances of the season. Class came through and the team reminded themselves of their unique brand of offensive, entertaining and clinical hockey which had been a feature of their dominance of the Div 1 South League.
Next week the team make yet another long journey to the South West in the hope of all but sealing promotion to England Hockey’s premier division. All supporters are very welcome.