Tournament top goal scorer Teague Marcano walked away from Repton having added another 14 goals to his record helping drive a strong Southgate performance which ended in promotion to Division One.
The spires and towers of Repton School appeared on a frosty January morning like shards of ice beckoning a hardy band of Gate supporters to the Repton indoor school for the second and final day of the Div 2 finals of the Super 6’s. After previous experiences in cold halls at Whitgift and Bristol the luxuriant facilities at Repton delighted the Southgate rump with cushioned benches and a coffee shop overlooking the iced outdoor pitches.
The previous day the team had lined up against Khalsa Leamington in a confident opening performance which saw Sign Morgan score after 5 mins for Khalsa before Charles Hamilton replied for Southgate immediately after and from there the flood gates open, Teague Marcano scored 6 goals Charles with 4 and Giulio Ferrini with 2. Final score 14-7.
The 5pm Saturday game was against Guildford whom the team had met and beaten comfortably at Bristol a few weeks ago, the game started well with John Sterlini scoring immediately in the 2nd minute of play, by half time it was 3-2 to Southgate yet a strong quarter from Guildford saw them pile on the pressure and at 3-5 the game hung in the balance. Si Walker got Southgate back in the goals in the 39th minute but it was too late. The team recording their first loss either indoors or outdoors by the slimmest of margins.
The loss meant Southgate had it all to do on the Sunday and fortunately the support had arrived in the nick of time, appearances from the West and Middleton family along with the Kellys made for a vibrant red and black atmosphere for the 10am PB against Beeston.
It was a nervy start from the sidelines with some free-flowing aggressive hockey being played at both ends. The chances begun to come with PC’s awarded to both teams, neither finding the target. Yet the first quarter ended goalless. The supporters upped the volume and immediately saw their efforts rewarded with John Sterlini scoring twice in the 12th minute giving Southgate a cushion which was swiftly removed the following minute by Ben Collinson for Beeston and then on the 18th by Henry Croft- the game went into half time at 2-2 and Southgate fingernails were bitten to the quick.
Yet the 3rd quarter the game swung and the pendulum went Southgate’s way with the team completely dominant, attacks down right and left with some superb finishes along the way. Charles Hamilton probably the pick with a nifty reverse lift in the 30th minute which got the crowd on its feet. Gate managed 5 goals in the 3rd quarter putting the game effectively to bed at 7-2. Beeston clawed back 3 goals in the final quarter but never threatened a confident Southgate side who at the final whistle stood 9-5 winners.
The next game was against University of Bristol who Southgate had met in the south west a few weeks ago in a taut 5-4 win- which saw the team edge victory in the dying seconds. Bristol continued their tactics of sitting deep waiting for play to break down before countering hard. Yet Kwan had the measure of them this time around. Rob Schilling, Sam Weissen and Kwan himself all played blinders at the back- wearing down the Bristol defence over the 40 minutes with long periods of possession as the ball moved back and forth laterally sometimes over 20 successive passes as the prey sized up it’s opponent waiting for a cinque in it’s armour. When that moment came a fast ball would be played into a pocket of space for the likes of Jack Middleton (who scored twice) to then strike and convert.
Bristol hoped for a counter attack and duly converted one in the third minute Damian Knott scoring for UOB, but it never shifted Gate’s focus John Sterlini equalising at final the whistle of the 1st quarter. Henceforth it was all Southgate with 80% possession and confident in our defence managed 3 goals on the counter counter with defenders Sam Weissen and Rob Schilling both in the goals. Compared to the fast flowing nature of the Beeston game, the second game of the day proved a far more tactical affair, almost like a chess game. Fortunately grand master Kwan Browne was at least three moves ahead of his opposite number. Credit again to the Bristol keeper Oliver Evans who seemed the one person who could keep Teague off the score-sheet with a succession of good saves. Nevertheless the final score was 7-1 to Southgate.
There then followed the customary ‘long break’ of 4 hours as the morning ebbed into the afternoon. Unlike the previous long break which resulted in a dead rubber at it’s end, this long wait would end in effectively a promotion play off with Southgate needing a win or draw to secure promotion and a win with goals in hand to claim top spot. By 4pm any team of Bowdon, Southgate or Beeston could have been crowned.
The game started with real pace, Kwan with the bit between his teeth driving hard down the right channel forcing repeated chances in the opening parries. Oliver Wickham in the Southgate goal was soon in action at the other end of the pitch with the Southgate defence overloaded in the swift Bowdon counter. Yet Ollie stood firm and wall like with nothing passing his pads. It took until the 6th minute for some Teague Marcano magic to open the flood gates and from then on Southgate dominated.
Highlights included a Jack Middleton wonder goal as he danced his way like a lounging lizard across the length and breadth of the pitch the ball moving gracefully like Darcy Bussell before pinning the ball into the top bins with fire. There were also some poetic moments of total hockey with the ball pinging between the Gate sticks with inexorable momentum into the Bowden D with a final precision pass onto the stick of the man on the post to put in the ball into an open goal with the keeper beaten.
At 6-1 the team possibly turned off the accelerator in the final quarter with Bowden allowed a few consolation goals but the win was never in doubt- the final score 7-3. It meant that in the final game Beeston needed to beat Khalsa Leamington by more than an 8 goal margin. Alas with only 9 men to Beestons 12 and already languishing at the bottom of the table the fight had gone from Khalsa and Beeston put them to the sword in a commendable 16-2 drubbing which guaranteed them the silverware.
Yet Southgate headed back to London with their ambitions satiated, promotion secured, and indoor hockey firmly back on the agenda at the club as the team look to amp up ambitions next year in Division One with one eye firmly on the Prem and the copper box finals in 2 years time.
Congratulations to the team, to coach Kwan Browne to manager Simon Parker and guest Physio Sarah Hart. Also thanks to Max Garner, Harry Haynes, Todd Lomas, Lucas Joehnig, Karan Sofat, Matt Ramshaw and Rob Gill who along with assistant coach Huw Stephens all played their role on pitch and off. Thanks to Rob and Clarissa Schilling for masterminding with Kwan and Andy the return to indoor this year- long may it continue.
The M1 now turn their attention back to outdoor with 2 games against prem opposition this weekend in the shapely forms of Holcombe on Saturday at home and Reading away on Sunday before their first league game at home next weekend against Brighton.