Match Report by Alastair Whatley | Photos by Simon Parker
Old Georgians demonstrated their championship winning form on Saturday night in a devastating 2nd quarter spell of clinical finishing that left Southgate playing catch-up. A dark November night in Weybridge made for an odd atmosphere when OG’s found themselves under pressure in the opening minutes. The game then swung back and forth for much of a tetchy 1st quarter, neither team yielding. Yet GB forward Alan Forsyth showcased his lightning reflexes from a devastating attacking move on the stroke of quarter time which produced an ominous forecast of what was to follow.
The second quarter was a tough watch for a Southgate supporter as Sam Ward showed exactly why he is top scorer in the English Premier Division with 3 goals in the first 9 minutes of Q2 putting OG’s 4-0 in the 26th minute. It was for the neutral observer a masterclass in attacking finishing and left Anton van Loggerenberg with no chance in the Southgate goal, one finish a natty reverse scoop into the top bins was just sublime. League followers may at this point have been expecting a similar capitulation as seen the weekend before last when EG’s went down 13-0 under the Georgian sword.
Yet those observers and OG supporters perhaps underestimated the resolve and determination in the Southgate ranks. Despite playing with 15 men after Dan West pulled up with a groin injury early in Q1, the Gate players rallied and stemmed the tide before ramping up pressure at the other end with a succession of PC’s all well saved by OG’s voluble George Pinner and at the stoke of half time Kwan Browne scored his 5th goal of the season with a perfectly executed flick into the top left corner Drama came early in Q3 when the umpires denied Teague Marcano’s fire cracker of a drag flick from a quick won PC deeming that the ball hadn’t left the D to the ire of the Southgate bench. Worse followed moments later when Karan Sofat was forced off the field in more ways than one with a suspected broken hand. Southgate were now left with just 14 players all beginning to run on empty. Yet with backs to wall Robbie Gill stepped up and effectively kept Sam Ward and Alan Forsyth out of the game for almost all the remaining minutes, at one point even risking a nosebleed as he found himself in the OG’s D. Gill produced a stand out performance when his team needed him to step up, and it was a proud moment for the Southgate supporters to see this young player mature before our eyes into a premier league player to be be reckoned with.
Still Southgate were not done and Marcano smarting from his disallowed goal produced a identical flick from top D at the next PC to bring the scoreline back to 5-2 in the 60th minute. The three goal margin alas proved too wide and it was made 4 in the 64th minute by a well worked goal by Alan Forsyth that left the final score 6-2. As ever there is more to that scoreline than meets the eye, and Southgate can be confident in their ability to compete with the best and indeed their ability not just to compete but to start winning these games against the top 5 teams in English Hockey, of which exclusive club Southgate have now earned the right to be a member of.
Phase 2 resumes in February when we look forward the likes of Wimbledon, Hampstead & Westminster and OG’s to Southgate for what is set to be a real feast of top flight hockey. What a great place to be.