Southgate vs Hampstead & Westminster
Paddington Recreation Ground, Saturday 17th October 2023
A Matt Guise Brown corner proved the difference between the sides in this keenly contested derby fixture at Paddington Rec under the lights on Saturday night. Southgate supporters travelled en masse from home and away fixtures to muster pitch side to lend their vocal stylings as Kwan Browne’s side looked to come back from the defeat to Surbiton the previous weekend.
Hampstead & Westminster have got to a flying start to their season but in this much anticipated fixture Kwan, Huw, Calnan, Marcano and Ramshaw all found themselves returning to their alma mater for the first time since joining The ‘Gate and were keen to make an impression.
The game proved cagey and hard fought from the first whistle. Every ball, every tackle and every pass mattered as the teams seemed to match each other stroke for stroke. Charles Hamilton, back in the side after injury, soon made his presence felt running down the first of two Hampstead PC’s which Southgate had anticipated being the most serious threat with South African international Matt Guise-Brown flicking from top D.
The deadlock was broken by the same Hampstead number 13 with a smartly taken PC that passed like a shot of lightning between left post man and fellow South African International and ‘Gate keeper, Anton Van Loggerenberg moving Hampstead to the goal advantage.
Southgate captain John Sterlini was in fine form in the screen, linking play and dominating the midfield like a Spartan colossus. Sterlini and Middleton proved key players as they connected Gill and Browne to the forward line and just 5 minutes later in the 37th minute a flick was awarded to ‘Gate and the crowd all momentarily fell silent as KB7 himself strode up from the half way line to go head to head with his former team mate and England player Toby Reynolds-Cotterill. The flick was Kwan’s third this season and he duly converted albeit Reynolds-Cotteril guessed correctly and only just missed a fine save. The ‘Gate crowd reinforced now by the M3’s who had arrived from their game in West Hampstead roared their approval and the game went to half time poised at 1-1.
The crowd continued to find their voice in the second half as as one they edged closer to the pitch craning necks to follow the play which charged end to end in expansive manner as the tension ratcheted up with each passing minute. Southgate almost edged in front with a goal line scramble that only stayed out of the Hampstead goal by the finest of margins, but it was GB’s James Oates who nailed a rebounded PC into the netting to give the home side the advantage in the 57th minute. The Hampstead support reacted volubly but undeterred and bouyed by the increasingly boisterous away support it was Southgate who took the game to the hosts as the minutes counted down. Ramshaw won a PC in the final minute of play as Marcano took aim from top D sending the ball into Reynolds-Cotterill who saved, Marcano hit the rebounded ball hard on his reverse but edged it inches wide as the final whistle blew.
Disappointment of course, but a strong, pulsating performance in a superb test of grit and determination from two well matched sides. The results will come if the team continue to play in this vein. Two opportunities this weekend as Kwan’s side take on Reading and Nottingham University. A long road left to travel as this years season unfurls across the coming months.