Southgate Men vs Sevenoaks Men
Saturday 25th April, Trent Park
Goals : Marcano x 3, Ramshaw x2, West x1
Scenes of unalloyed joy reverberated around the bounds of Trent Park on Saturday night as memories were forged and dreams were made as Southgate celebrated becoming league Champions with a commanding 6-1 win over Sevenoaks.
After a sticky performance against Bristol last week, the point from the 3-3 draw cementing their promotion, the team brought their winning season home with a resounding performance that delighted the Southgate crowd with a feast of free flowing attacking hockey.
Matt Ramshaw returned from injury like a caged lion released back into the wilds as he brought a fresh energy that helped revitalise the team and saw Gate dominate from the first whistle. Ramshaw charged the attacking lines like a whipped effervescence connecting with Teague Marcano like two lost brothers in strong attacking displays down the middle and out to the wide channels. Nevertheless it took until the 11th minute for the Sevenoaks defence to be breached when the ball was turned finding Marcano who eliminated two defenders before seeking out Ramshaw top left of the D and with some form of iron willed determination he simply drag flicked the ball into the bottom left blasting the ball past Rory Mylroi in the Oaks goal. 1-0.
Not to be undone Marcano followed suit just a minute later converting clinically after Ramshaw pirouetted past the Sevenoaks midfield, Matt Allister with the wide lead helped open up Jack Middleton back in the midfield this week to pass with laser accuracy to Marcano to slot the ball home making it 2-0 at the end of Q1.
2 became 3 in the 22nd minute when a driving run by Middleton led to a blocked shot which fell to the outstretched stick of Marcano who drove it home at short range for his second. 3-0. Sevenoaks are no push overs and came back hard and just two minutes the approach paid dividends as Benjamin Shelby got himself on the scoresheet converting a ball driven across the baseline to make it 3-1 at the half time whistle.
The game evened out during Q3 with Sevenoaks repeatedly foiling the Gate advances. Ollie Wickens in the Southgate goal pulling off a succession of strong saves to ensure the 2 goal advantage held. Will Shepherdson continued his calm ascension into 1’s hockey with some fine distribution and defensive grit which he channeled like Suez along with seasoned seniority in Schilling, Walker and Weissen, not to mention Kwan whose long aerials continued to fall like lead arrows on the Sevenoaks defensive lines. Hamilton, Allister and Burkin enjoyed strong games up top constantly finding space and driving the lines whilst captain Guilio Ferrini, Jose Hurtado and Karan Sofat worked like trojans in the midfield.
The pressure built frustrating Sevenoaks their concentration slipping momentarily and true to form the boys in red capitalised. A thrilling final quarter ensued which began with Ramshaw nailing his brace in the 56th minute following on from another link up with partner in crime Marcano who slipped the ball right from top D leaving Ramshaw one on one with the keeper. With a confident finish worthy of Michelangelo he worked the keeper wide before shuntng the ball home with panache making it 4-1.
From here the gates opened, and soon the crowd were treated to one of the goals of the season as Dan West danced his way into the D from right to left and at pace, the ball moving across him he pasted a tomahawk into the top right netting, giving the home supporters a masterclass in the grandstand finish. The game took some time to restart as the Southgate players congratulated West on a goal for the ages.
Just a minute later Marcano converted his 4th hat trick of the season as he turned the ball over from a 16 then charging the keeper at pace leaving them 1 on 1 and with a sublime finish one his reverse he sunk the ball into the netting to make it 6-1.
The game ended with some unforgettable scenes as England Hockey official Ben Redwood and Club president Dick Beechener presented the Div 1 South Champion medals and trophy under a starry sky, to the tune of Simply the Best (courtesy of DJ Wayne Garner and Tina Turner) with the balcony a seething throng of happy Southgate faces.
The trophy proceeded to be ‘piped ‘ up the stairs of the club house by wing back Sam Weissen, a suitably inimitable moment to add to the memories of an unbelievable season which saw the team under new coach Kwan Browne move from mid table mediocrity last year to out and out champions this year.
Whatever happens next, however next season plays out and whoever joins this team as we move to the premier division, this season will surely go down in the annals of Southgate history as one of our finest in recent decades. A huge step up awaits next season, but it’s a leap that Kwan will no doubt have his squad ready for. Brace for impact. Southgate have landed.